Two-time Olympic medalist and openly gay athlete Caitlin Cahow appeared on the "Today" show on Thursday and said she is "very proud" to be part of the U.S. delegation for the Sochi Games selected by the White House earlier this week.
"I am going to Sochi to represent a country that has made the most dramatic shifts on some of these issues in the last few years and I am very proud to be representing that kind of diversity," Cahow said, referring to recent strides made in gay rights in the U.S.
Cahow, who medaled in ice hockey in Turin and Vancouver, received a call from the White House with an invitation to join a delegation that includes another openly-gay athlete, tennis great Billie Jean King. 1998 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano was also added to the delegation. On Thursday, Boitano announced in a statement that he is gay, saying that his sexual orientation is "just one part of who I am."
The delegation selections come amid much public conversation about Russia's anti-gay laws, even though President Vladimir Putin insists his country's first priority as host is to provide "equal terms" for all athletes.
Cahow told host Matt Lauer that mixing politics and sports is inevitable at the Olympics and hopes she can make the best of what she perceives as her "John Carlos moment," a nod to the U.S. track and field Olympian who, along with fellow athlete Tommie Smith, raised their fists in a Black Power salute on the podium during their medal ceremony in 1968 in Mexico City.
"Honestly, I think that my John Carlos moment right now is going to Russia and being present and representing the United States," she told Lauer. "This delegation represents so much more than just LGBT diversity."
President Barack Obama will not attend the games in February, but the White House said in a statement that the delegates will "showcase to the world the best of America -- diversity, determination and teamwork." This marks the first Olympics since the Sydney games in 2000 that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president is not part of the U.S delegation.
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Cahow and King will be accompanied by former Homeland Security Secretary and current president of the University of California Janet Napolitano, and speed skater Bonnie Flair.