updated 12/19/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/19/2013 AT 5:15 PM ET
Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano has announced that he is gay.
“I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am,” Boitano, 50, said in a statement published by USA Today.
“First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
President Barack Obama named Boitano to the official U.S. delegation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Tuesday. Two openly lesbian athletes – tennis legend Billie Jean King and ice hockey Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow – will also travel to Sochi as part of the delegation.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday rebuffed claims that the delegation is a message to Putin about Russia’s anti-gay laws, The Baltimore Sun reports.
In conjunction, Boitano did not comment on Russia’s anti-gay stance nor discuss sexual orientation as a factor in his being selected for the delegation.
“It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions. While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so,” he said.