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Welcome out, Graeme Obree

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2011

Graeme Obree is a bicyclist with an impressive record (bikeradar.com)

Both Obree’s private life and his achievements on the bike have combined to make him one of cycling’s most enigmatic figures. The Scotsman claimed the World individual pursuit title in 1993 and 1995 but is best known for his innovative and pioneering attempts at the World hour record.

He claimed the hour record twice, in 1993 and 1994. The first successful, in Norway, saw him best a nine-year-old record held by Italian Francesco Moser using a hand-made bike constructed from spare parts dubbed ‘Old Faithful’. That record lasted only a week as Englishman Chris Boardman improved on Obree’s effort in Bordeaux, France during a rest day of that year’s Tour de France.

Obree reclaimed the record in April, 1994 on the same track used by his English rival after making adaptations to ‘Old Faithful’. That record was improved upon by Spaniard Miguel Indurain five months later.

But Obree’s accomplishments did not bring satisfaction. Because Obree had as issue nagging at him, one which he desperately sought to hide from himself. It led him to two suicide attempts before seeking professional help. (PinkNews)

“I was brought up thinking you’d be better dead than gay,” he said. “I must have known I was gay and it was so unacceptable.

“I was brought up by a war generation – they grew up when gay people were put in jail. Being homosexual was so unthinkable that you just wouldn’t be gay. I’d no inkling about anything, I just closed down.

“People say, ‘How can you be gay and be married and have kids and not know it?’

“But when I went to my psychologist she reckoned I had the emotional age of about 13 because I’d just closed down.”

But now the hiding is over. Obree came out to his ex-wife and children several years ago – and more importantly, to himself. Today he made his orientation public in a Scottish newspaper.

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