The 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany, come to a close this weekend with a massive ceremony, but before the event wraps up, Xtra spoke with a few Canadian athletes.
Scroll down to check out our interviews with Travis Wall, a competitor with Montreal’s À Contre-Courant swim team, and Brendan Lloyd, president (and competitor) of Toronto’s Triggerfish water polo team. Both teams are participating in the Gay Games for the first time.
Also, check out yesterday’s interview with Toronto hockey player Wayne Belkosky. His team, the Toronto Wolf Pack, won a silver medal in the recreational division.
Listen to our interview with Travis Wall of Montreal’s À Contre-Courant swim team:
XTRA: So tell me how you ended up at these Games in Cologne?
TRAVIS WALL: The first ones I attended were actually the Out Games in Montreal in 2006 — I just moved there that year — so we were the host city and our team was the host team for the swimming event. And then we went to Copenhagen last year, again that was the Out Games. This is my first Gay Games though.
XTRA: What’s the registration process like?
WALL: It’s open to everybody. Obviously there’s no qualifying standards, so anybody can participate. You just have to decide to do it, and train a little bit and sign up.
XTRA: And how much were you training?
WALL: Yeah, that’s the embarrassing part. The last few months, not very often. Usually I train two or three times a week, for about an hour each practice.
XTRA: So what is your goal?
WALL: Just to come out here and keep participating, really. You see some people here. I’m not sure what the oldest swimmer is, but I think the oldest athlete at these games is in their 90s, and I think maybe the oldest swimmer is in their 60s or 70s, so hopefully when I’m 70 I can still be swimming. Of course, I won’t be worrying about my times, but if I can still complete an event when I’m 70, that’ll be great.
Listen to our interview with Brendan Lloyd of Toronto’s Triggerfish water polo team:
XTRA: How long have you been competing in these sports?
BRENDAN LLOYD: About four or five years. I was just swimming casually and recreationally, and I met someone at a party, and he said “You need to join this team,” and I thought, “Oh well, speedos and showers and more swimming sounds like a good way to meet people.” My first time doing anything international was at the IGLA (International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships) in 2007 in Paris. Last year was the Out Games in Copenhagen, and now Cologne — but this is my first Gay Games.
XTRA: How’s Cologne so far?
LLOYD: It’s nice. Seems to be pretty easy to get around, the people have been really welcoming, it’s a great crowd, those villages are tons of fun, we definitely had a good time at the opening ceremonies. We haven’t gotten a lot of sleep, but that’s probably a good sign. The beer is cheap, right? [laughs] A lot of people are jealous that we can compete at this level at all, because like, otherwise you would have to be some crazy good varsity player, or on the Olympic Team to get to travel like this and play against people from all over the world. So it’s a great opportunity.
XTRA: Why would you say it’s necessary to have something like the Gay Games?
LLOYD: It changes gradually. I think that a venue for gay people to be involved in sport is really important still. In Canada, it gets more accepting, but there will always be an element of intimidation for people who are gay and trying to be athletic. In other countries, it’s even more important that there be that opportunity for people who wouldn’t be able to compete, or at least not be out and compete in any capacity, and here they can come and do it internationally, and get exposure to how it is in other places, and get that kind of affirmation.
Find out more about the Montreal À Contre-Courant swim team at acontrecourant.qc.ca/en and the Toronto Triggerfish water polo team at triggerfishwaterpolo.ca.