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    Photos Courtesy Of Gay Games Ix Presented by The Cleveland Foundation and Federation of Gay Games

    By Tony Jasinski

    gaygamesTeam SF did us proud at Gay Games IX in Cleveland, bringing back several well-earned medals. Here are just a few of the highlights:

    Michael Survillion from Team SF won a gold medal in the relay event. San Francisco’s Tsunami water polo team took home the gold. The Rockdogs, originally a San Francisco-based team that has become more global over the years, won its third consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball. Survillion helped with that effort too, since he’s a starting point guard for The Rockdogs.

    We bowled them over in Cleveland, as San Francisco’s Strike a Pose bowling team took the bronze in the B division. The team includes SF’s Doug Litwin, who is on the Gay Games Federation board. Craig Davis and Jason Eller, first-time participants in doubles bowling, won gold. Team SF members additionally took the bronze in multiple divisions in bowling.

    The over 30 set proved they are fit and fab. For example, Rachel Emmons-Bradley of San Francisco got a silver medal in the 5K over 35 bracket. The Rockdogs earned a silver medal with their over-35 division team.

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    Other noteworthy happenings were a gay rodeo event, and an amazing 99-year-old woman from New York who ran the 100-yard dash! In figure skating, a blind male participant received rousing applause and recognition after skating well.

    The Gay Games takes place every 4 years, and the first two were held in San Francisco in 1982 and 1986.  Since those events, the Games have grown in size substantially until this year’s event in Cleveland. There was a big drop-off in participation this year, although the event was very well organized with excellent local support and plenty of activities to choose from. There were 37 sports!

    In talking with local athletes, many people elected not to participate this year due to the location. The games require over a week’s commitment, and Cleveland was not seen as a city that players would find interesting enough. However, the event’s smaller size was not bad for organizers, who had a more manageable task.

    gaygames3The facilities were considered impressive, and the weather was quite good nearly the whole week. The opening ceremonies, held indoors at the same arena that LeBron James plays in, were stunning and at capacity. There was a taped greeting by President Obama. Greg Louganis, Lance Bass, and the Pointer Sisters were all part of that opening night too. Cheer SF performed to the tune of “Heroes,” coming out of dress suits to turn into superheroes. They have really got their choreography solid.

    The city was apparently quite welcoming to the athletes, as there were no problems reported anywhere, and the press had many players commenting on how nice everyone seemed towards them. Many of the people of Cleveland, and Akron, were pleased about the event being held in their region. There was impressive local corporate support, and a related event at a Cleveland Indians baseball game. It’s understandable then that, even with the lower turnout, Doug Litwin said, “This might have been the best gay games ever!”

    The next Gay Games, number 10, will be held in Paris, August of 2018.

    In other LGBT sports news, on Wednesday and Thursday nights in the Castro at the Eureka Valley Gym (behind Mollie Stones), the San Francisco Gay Basketball Association is signing up players for the fall league season, which starts in September and runs through December. The league has grown from 6 teams to an expected 10 teams this season. For more information, please go to www.sfgba.com

    Tony Jasinski is the former president of the San Francisco Gay Basketball League.