Out to Win: Ten U.S. Athletes Heading to Gay Games IV in Sydney Talk about Why They Compete. (Gay Games VI Sydney, Australia)(Cover Story)

Article excerpt

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Caption: Ben Carrillo

SPORT: Water polo; his first Gay Games

STATS: 25; animator and bartender; single; native of Los Angeles

ON THE GAMES: "It's great to be able to share being gay and also having the same interest in water polo. The team's awesome. I've never had such a fun experience playing with other gay guys. Every guy on the team is great."

BEN WEARS HIS OWN EMBROIDERED POLO CAP.

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Caption: Joy Mendenhall

SPORT: Water polo; her first Gay Games

STATS: 26; teacher; partner to a Gay Games triathlete; native of Rensselaer, Ind.

ON THE GAMES: "To me, it's making a statement that's bigger than just `Hi, I'm gay.' [It's] `Look at all these cultures that are able to come here--and different religions, different types of people--and we're converging on the same stage, and we're all getting along.' It's something that our world leaders need to maybe come over and take notice of."

JOY WEARS HER OWN ADIDAS SWIMSUIT.

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Caption: Melody Roth

SPORT: Bodybuilding, her first Gay Games

STATS: 41; personal trainer; "questionable" relationship status; resident of Long Beach, Calif.

ON THE GAMES: "It's going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. I'm thrilled. I just love to compete. I like getting on stage. I like being in front of the camera. I like working hard and having people appreciate what I've worked for. [Knowing the games are coming up] gives me something to train toward. It's hard to explain the feeling of going through that process of getting your body fat down to 6%-7% and getting on stage. It's just a great feeling to know you can do that with your body. It's really cool."

MELODY WEARS AN ADIDAS TOP AND SHORTS.

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Caption: Jerry Shandrew

SPORTS: Water polo, triathlon; gold medalist at two previous Gay Games

STATS: 34; publicist; single; native of Visalia, Calif.

ON THE GAMES: "It's fun to have an outlet for gay athletes within their own environment, and I love that they have a different twist on it. [I love] the Pink Flamingo drag swimming relay--people go all out, work for six months on their routines and their outfits. I've never participated in it, but I really like to watch."

JERRY WEARS HIS OWN PEARL IZUMI TOP AND SHORTS.

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Caption: Kurt Gering

SPORTS: Swimming, triathlon; his first Gay Games

STATS: 34; teacher; single but "dating someone"; native of Minneapolis

ON THE GAMES: "I encourage my students to set high goals, then I like to be the role model for what I encourage them to do. I always pick something that seems almost impossible but is obtainable, then let them learn from my actions. My being on The Real World [dating cast member Chris Beckman] was also a very teachable moment--for my students to see that gay people are really out there doing things that everyone else does. …