Basketball player Stefanie Dolson became the first out LGBT+ American athlete to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Games and made Olympics history while doing it.
Dolson was part of the Team USA basketball squad, which made history by winning the Olympics’ first-ever women’s 3-on-3 basketball event on Wednesday (28 July).
She is one of the more than 160 out athletes participating in the Olympics this year, according to an analysis by OutSports, and is the Tokyo Games’ second out LGBT+ gold medal winner, following Tom Daley.
Dolson, along with her teammates Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and Allisha Gray controlled the game against the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) from the outset, but the Russian team fought back hard.
With only a few seconds left in the game, Dolson got a rebound from the ROC team that pretty much sealed the victory. It culminated in Team USA clinching the game by a nail-bitingly close score of 18-15.
Dolson – who goes by the nickname “Big Mama Stef” – told Olympics.com that she is “so proud of this team and myself”.
“We fought so hard to get here, and it wasn’t always easy and we’re really happy with what we’ve done,” Dolson said.
She added: “It gives me goosebumps [winning gold]. It’s special to be the first of everything, but basketball runs deep in American blood so this is very special.”
These four. History makers. Olympic champions.
— USA Basketball 3×3 (@usab3x3) July 28, 2021
The Chicago Sky player came out as part of the LGBT+ community in a 2016 interview with ESPN The Magazine. She said that not every player in the WNBA “needs to be out”, but she felt “called to lead an authentic life in the open”.
“I know who I am, and I don’t care if people judge me,” Dolson said.
In an Olympics “diary” entry published by the Associated Press, Dolson said it is an “unbelievable feeling” to know that her team “just won the gold medal”. She described how the medal is “much heavier” than she imagined when she was a young child with Olympic dreams.
Dolson also shared that she had some time before the post-awards ceremony press conference to call her family and share the good news with them.
“It was so cool,” Dolson wrote. “My niece was there and obviously my mom was especially excited — one could say embarrassingly excited.”