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Olympic champion Boitano announces he's gay

Skater to be part of U.S. delegation at Olympic Winter Games in Russia
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1988 Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano came out in a statement released Thursday. -Getty Images

Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist in men's figure skating, announced in a statement from his publicist Thursday that he is gay.

The announcement comes two days after Boitano was named as part of the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The delegation also includes two other openly gay athletes: tennis legend Billie Jean King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

The statement read in part: "While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so. I am many things: a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am." 

The Russian government has come under fire for its anti-gay legislation, raising concerns for the safety of gay athletes and others who will be in the country during the Games in February.

Boitano went on to say in the statement, "It has been my experience from competing around the world and in Russia that Olympic athletes can come together in friendship, peace and mutual respect regardless of their individual country's practices. ... As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."

In addition to his Olympic gold medal -- which came in what was dubbed "Battle of the Brians," a showdown between him and Canada's Brian Orser, who also has since come out as gay -- Boitano won two world championships and four U.S. titles, and was inducted into the World and U.S. Figure Skating halls of fame in 1996. Following his competitive career, he has starred in a Food Network series called What Would Brian Boitano Make? and published a cookbook of the same name.