Michiganders gear up for Gay Games

By |2018-01-15T22:40:56-05:00July 13th, 2006|News|

FERNDALE – About 40 Michigan athletes scheduled to compete in Gay Games VII in Chicago gathered for a meet-and-greet at Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center on July 6. Bob Knight, who will compete in swimming and triathlon, and Leeron Kopelmann, who will compete in football, who first met last month at Motor City Pride, organized the event.
“All these people are going, but very few know each other,” said Knight, who previously competed in Gay Games III in Vancouver (1990) and Gay Games VI (2002) in Sydney. “We figured some people are going to need help with sharing hotels and transportation.”
Knight estimated that about 130 athletes from Michigan will compete in this year’s Gay Games in virtually of the categories, including the traditional, such as football and basketball, to the unusual and distinctly gay, like darts and choral. At Affirmations, the group munched on pizza and pop while they voted on possible designs for Team Michigan T-shirts for the event.
Among those scheduled to compete were Michael Orr, 36, of Southfield. Orr, a former competitor in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, first competed in Gay Games V in Amsterdam (1998).
“The best part is meeting people, getting the word out about competing and supporting the gay community,” said Orr, who is now a skating instructor.
Chicago will mark the Gay Games debut for Dr. Bob Shimmel of Wyandotte. But the 76-year-old runner is no novice to the sport. Shimmel began running marathons when he turned 50.
“I had not done any athletic activity prior to that time,” said the retired dermatologist. “I was a workaholic.”
But Shimmel made up for lost time. To date, he has run 268 marathons and holds the distinction of being the second man in the country to run three marathons in each of the 50 states. In addition, he has run marathons in all 12 Canadian provinces, and at age 69 ran a distance of 85 miles over a 24-hour period.
For Chicago, Shimmel will reluctantly run the half-marathon.
“I pulled a hamstring,” he explained. “So I had to call them and switch events.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.