American heptathlete denies wearing gay pride shoes to make political statement
American heptathlete Erica Bougard may not have made the podium but definitely made headlines in Qatar when she wore gay pride shoes while competing in the high jump.
The fourth-placed athlete has since said it wasn't a political statement, she was simply wearing her favourite high jump shoes which feature the rainbow flag.
She has worn them all season but said it did not cross her mind how it would be seen in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal.
“I honestly didn’t think about it because it was already on my shoe,” she said.
“I put the flag on my shoe and people noticed it, I guess.”
The 26-year-old said she hoped as a result it would have a positive effect on social media, saying: "Hopefully I do get a lot of praise. I hope I don't get bashed a lot."
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Bougard, who has been a strong advocate for people struggling with their sexual identity, openly started dating her girlfriend about a year ago and says she is not worried about any repercussions.
"I'm not afraid of the consequences, I feel like I'm well protected," she said.
She then added that if anything does happen, "I'll be on the first flight out".