Openly gay Olympic Luger John Fennell has lost his hopes of competing in the 2018 games after a freak sled malfunction.
Fennell, who came out at the age of 19, has dual citizenship and competed for Canada in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi. He was hoping to compete for Team USA for the first time at the Winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, but during his qualifying run last week, the runner on his sled snapped off.
The athlete wasn’t injured, but the accident disqualified him.
“Heartbroken,” Fennell tweeted when sharing the news last week. “Part of my sled broke off during my qualifying run, cutting my Olympic qualification. Seriously crushed to end like this.”
Heartbroken. Part of my sled broke off during my qualifying run, cutting my Olympic qualification. Seriously crushed to end like this.
— John Fennell (@johncanluge) December 15, 2017
Prior to being disqualified, Fennell had the fastest start of the day and was in eighth place.
Despite his sled malfunction, he finished 21st, but only the top 15 qualified for the World Cup on Friday, which then determined who’d make up the U.S. Olympic team.
Fennell would have been among the first openly gay men to compete for the USA in the Winter Olympics. Two other openly gay athletes are also competing for a spot on Team USA this year: Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, and figure skater Adam Rippon, both of whom will find out whether they made the cut in January.