Twitter [@icegirlash]
Twitter [@icegirlash]

Figure skater Timothy LeDuc has made LGBTQ+ history as the first non-binary athlete to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

The monumental news was announced on 8 January by the US Figure Skating organisation.

The 31-year-old and their partner Ashley Cain-Gribble join fellow ice skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier on Team USA.

During an Olympic press conference, LeDuc opened up about their landmark achievement and their hopes for future queer athletes.

“My hope is that when people see my story, it isn’t focused on me and saying, ‘Oh, Timothy is the first out non-binary person to achieve this level of success in sport,’” they said.

“My hope is that the narrative shifts more to queer people can be open and successful in sports. We’ve always been here, we’ve always been a part of sports. We just haven’t always been able to be open.”

LeDuc is no stranger to making history. Back in 2019, they became the first out gay athlete to win gold in a US pairs event.

Even though the talented athlete has broken barriers, LeDuc has experienced pushback from critics in the past.

In an interview with NBC Sports’ My New Favorite Olympian podcast, LeDuc opened up about the “complications” they faced throughout their journey.

“For me, as a person that exists and really thrives outside of the binary, it can be very complicated sometimes,” they explained.

“There are going to be the people that don’t understand it or would be very quick to push me back into the box of, you know, they look at me, they see that I have a beard or they look at maybe my physical characteristics and say, ‘You’re a boy. Act like a boy. What are you doing?’”

At the age of 18, LeDuc told their evangelical Christian parents that they were gay, followed by coming out as non-binary roughly 10 years later.

Despite experiencing a rocky relationship with their parents initially, the Iowa native revealed that they now fully embracing their identity.

LeDuc has now joined the growing list of openly LGBTQ+ athletes to head to the Olympics.

At the 2020 Tokyo games, over 180 athletes participated in an array of events – which is triple the amount from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

On top of the vast amounts of diversity and visibility, Team LGBTQ+ dominated the games by earning 32 medals – which would have placed them at seventh place.

The Winter Olympics are set to start on 4 February and end on 20 February in Beijing.