Olympics silver medallist Erica Sullivan believes she is the “epitome” of being American because she is “multicultural”, “queer” and a “lot of minorities”.
Sullivan, who came out as gay in 2017, won second place Wednesday (28 July) in the Olympics first-ever women’s 1,500-metre freestyle swimming event. She was in fifth place at the halfway stage of the race but managed to claw her way back to finish with a time of 15:41.41.
Sullivan was only a few seconds behind her teammate Katie Ledecky, who took home the gold in the event. It was Sullivan’s Olympic debut so needless to say she rocked it.
After her historic win, Sullivan gave one of the most memorable press sessions of the Olympics. She shared that she felt like the “epitome of an American person” after the race. She added it was “so cool” to be taking home an Olympic medal as an Asian-American woman and also as someone who “identifies as gay”.
“I’m multicultural. I’m queer. I’m a lot of minorities,” Sullivan said. “That’s what America is.”
She continued: “To me, America is not about being a majority.
“It’s about having your own start.
“The American dream is coming to a country to be able to establish what you want to do with your life.”
Team USA’s Erica Sullivan during the 1500m freestyle final swimming competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on 28 July 2021. (Getty/Jean Catuffe)
Erica Sullivan hoped to make the ‘girls, gays and theys’ proud at the Olympics
Before travelling to Tokyo, Sullivan shared on Instagram that she was honoured to bring LGBT+ representation to the games. She addressed her post to the “girls, gays“, “theys” and “anyone else who doesn’t feel represented in the sport”.
“Beyond blessed to be able to wear the Team USA cap one more time,” Sullivan wrote.
She added that she hoped not to “let down the communities that I represent” – and she didn’t.
Sullivan also has an amazing sense of humour. On Twitter, she shared that she had the “Olympic record for 16 minutes” before Ledecky “put in the work and threw down the heat”.
“But I’ll proceed to flex my 16 minutes,” Sullivan wrote.
Fun fact: I had the Olympic record for 16 minutes. @katieledecky put in the work and threw down the heat after. But I’ll proceed to flex my 16 minutes
— Erica Sullivan (@erica_sully) July 27, 2021
Sullivan is one of more than 160 openly LGBT+ athletes participating in the Olympics this year, according to OutSports. She joins other out medalists including Tom Daley, Stefanie Dolson, Katarzyna Zillmann, Carl Hester and many more.