For skeleton athletes Nicole Rocha Silveira of Brazil and Kim Meylemans of Belgium, there’s always a balance.
“Basically, when we’re at the track we are competitors and outside of the track, it’s fair game, real life partners,” Silveira said. “We figured it out.”
Silveira and Meylemans are two of at least 36 out LGBTQ athletes who are competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to Outsports.
“Knowing that I can step on the big stage, the Olympics, as a known LGBTQ member, and be able to bring out more visibility and help athletes be who they want to be, brings me a lot of joy,” Silveira told Outsports. “I hope I can be that person that helps lift that weight off someone else’s shoulder.”
MORE WINTER OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Women’s skeleton slides into spotlight at 2022 Winter Olympics
The couple met three years ago at a World Cup stop at which Meylemans was competing and Silveira was volunteering. Silveira, who was competing on the lower-level circuit at the time, eventually worked her way up to the elite level.
“I would say two seasons ago, she was a lot of help to me,” Silveira said. “But we’ve got to the point where we are competitive with one another and I push her to be better and she pushes me to be better.”
Along the way, they also started dating.
Both are the first athlete to represent their respective nation in skeleton at the Winter Olympics. Meylemans debuted at the Olympics in 2018, while Silveira is making her first appearance.
Meylemans had a stressful start to her Olympic Games. She tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival, which led to a three-day stay in isolation. After returning multiple negative tests, she thought the isolation period was ending – but when the ambulance that she thought was taking her to the village drove past it, panic set in because Meylemans didn’t know what was happening. A teary social-media post brought immediate attention, and hours later, Meylemans was transported to the Olympic village.
Then, ahead of competition, she injured herself on the final day of training, pulling a hamstring.
Despite all of the challenges, “Oddly, I actually feel more motivation, excitement and gratitude than ever to just get out there and race!” she wrote on Instagram.
After the first two runs of the women’s skeleton competition, Meylemans (11th) is three spots ahead of Silveira (14th).
MORE SKELETON NEWS: Can Narracott hold on to win Australia’s first ever sliding medal?
“My first run was really good,” Meylemans said. “My second run felt better but was slower, so we’re going to have to look at the video and see where it went wrong. It’s unfortunate that I pulled my hamstring, especially because my start is my biggest asset. I think my push times are still very competitive. But obviously it’s very painful and not ideal but we’re going to keep fighting.”
As for Silveira, “If I were to say I am 100 percent happy with my runs, that would be a lie. But I’m just really happy to be here, and to be competitive, too.”
Women’s skeleton concludes on Sunday morning.
Women’s Skeleton Schedule at the 2022 Winter Olympics
|Event||Date/Time (U.S. Eastern Time)||Date/Time (Beijing, China)|
|Women’s Skeleton (Runs 1 & 2)||2/10/22 8:30 PM||2/11/22 9:30 AM|
|Women’s Skeleton (Runs 3 & 4)||2/12/22 7:20 PM||2/13/22 8:20 AM|
The Associated Press contributed to this story.