Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy has added his name to the ever-growing list of world-class sportsmen to come out as gay.

The 24-year-old American, who won silver in the Men’s freestyle skiing at the Sochi Winter Olympic last year and rescued stray dogs while not on the slopes, announced the news in a frank new profile with ESPN yesterday (October 22), and shared a picture of the magazine’s cover on Twitter with the three simple words: “I am gay”.

Taking to Instagram after the news broke, Kenworthy – who is half British and was born in Essex – wrote: “Wow, it feels good to write those words. For most of my life I’ve been afraid to embrace that truth about myself. Recently though, I’ve gotten to the point where the pain of holding onto the lie is greater than the fear of letting go, and I’m proud to finally be letting my guard down.”

He went on: “My sexuality has been something I’ve struggled to come to terms with. I’ve known I was gay since I was a kid but growing up in a town of 2,000 people, a class of 48 kids and then turning pro as an athlete when I was 16, it just wasn’t something I wanted to accept.

“I pushed my feelings away in the hopes that it was a passing phase but the thought of being found out kept me up at night. I constantly felt anxious, depressed and even suicidal.”

gus_kenworthy_3.0

In the ESPN interview the sportsman admits that he’s known since the age of 5 that he is gay, but only started coming out to family and friends until two years ago. He adds that despite his success on the slopes he remains concerned about how the sporting world will take the news about his sexuality.

“They say it’s a community of individuals and everyone is doing their own thing and it’s not a team sport, so you get to be yourself,” he says. “But you don’t really.

“Everyone wears a Red Bull or Monster or Rockstar cap, a T-shirt and jeans and skate shoes. Everyone drives the same type of car and listens to the same kind of music. The industry isn’t the most embracing of someone who’s different. I’m nervous about that.”

However, US Ski and Snowboard Association president Tiger Shaw was quick to praise the young star, saying in a statement: “Today, we admire Gus for having the strength to tell the world who he is as a person, and paving the way for others to do the same.”

And judging by Gus’ tweets last night, it seems he had no need to be worried about the public’s reaction…

One of those supportive messages came from Gus’s good friend Miley Cyrus, who shared a picture of the pair on Instagram with the simple caption: “My hero”.

My hero @guskenworthy @happyhippiefdn

A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

Congratulations Gus! As some of the pictures below demonstrate, the water’s fine…

We went streaking in the park, skinny dipping in the dark, then had a ménage à trois…

A photo posted by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on

https://instagram.com/p/4lJ8TKLTyx/

https://instagram.com/p/6tQdYvrT-5/

Hiked Bear Creek, flashed bare cheeks. #mountainbabes #freethenipple

A photo posted by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on

https://instagram.com/p/4u1vwPLT0w/

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