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Olympian Bruce Hayes Backs Gay Games Movement -- February 25, 2004

CHICAGO, February 25. EARLY next week, the Federation of Gay Games is expected to announce the winning bid city to host the Gay Games during the summer of 2006, acacording to a story in The Windy City Times.

Chicago Games Inc. is planning a celebration party if Chicago is selected. For updates, look starting March 1 at www.ChicagoGamesInc.org .

Meanwhile, Bruce Hayes, 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist and two-time Gay Games participant, has announced his support of both the Chicago and Los Angeles bids to host Gay Games VII in 2006.

“I spent my undergraduate years at UCLA and earned a master's degree in journalism at Northwestern, so I know both cities very well,” said Hayes. “It will be a tough choice for the Federation board because both cities have a strong sporting tradition and active LGBT communities.”

Hayes, a director in the Madrid office of international public relations firm Edelman, was the first Olympic gold medalist to compete at a Gay Games, in Vancouver in 1990. There, he and several of his New York City teammates joined to set two Gay Games relay records (long course).

He far surpassed that performance at 1994’s Gay Games IV in New York City by setting four Masters world records, including becoming the first Masters swimmer over age 30 to break the 4-minute barrier in the 400 meter freestyle (short course).

“I’m looking forward to attending the next Gay Games in either city,” Hayes said. “Although I’ve competed in most of the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics Championships since 1990, I haven’t had the opportunity to swim at a Gay Games since 1994. It will be great to return to either one of these cities in 2006 for Gay Games VII.”

Hayes is one of four charter members of the Federation of Gay Games’ Ambassadors, a group of individuals distinguished by their accomplishments in athletics, the arts, business and government. The other Ambassadors are former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel, actress Judith Light, and photographer Tom Bianchi.

Hayes’ 1984 Olympic gold medal was earned in what the worldwide swimming community considers to be one of the most thrilling relay races in history, that year’s men’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay. Swimming anchor for the United States with a slight lead, Hayes was caught by German superstar Michael Gross on the first lap. Gross pulled ahead but Hayes managed to maintain contact. The two swam neck and neck on the final lap with Hayes out-touching Gross for the win and a world record by .04 seconds.

“While I’ll always be extremely proud of my accomplishments as a member of the U.S. National Team, particularly at the Olympics in 1984, in many ways my participation at the Gay Games has been just as meaningful to me,” said Hayes. “The Gay Games gave me the courage to come out and the awareness and willingness to get involved in our community’s political struggles, things I sorely lacked during my years in the closet.”

In addition to participating in and supporting the Gay Games, Hayes has continued to be an active part of the Olympic movement. He worked as Assistant Competition Manager of Swimming at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Currently a member of the Circle of Olympians supporting the NYC2012 bid, he has served as a consultant for New York’s Olympic swimming plans.