Authenticity is certainly paying off for Gus Kenworthy.
The 26-year-old freeskier secured a spot on the men’s slopestyle Olympic team Sunday, making him one of two openly gay men competing for the U.S. at the Winter Games for the first time in history. (Figure skater Adam Rippon is the other.)
The news came just two days after Kenworthy was named a brand ambassador for Head & Shoulders shampoo. The company showed the first television commercial from its “Shoulders of Greatness” campaign starring the Olympian on Jan. 19.
Though the ad shows Kenworthy hitting the slopes, it celebrates the history-making aspect of his achievement and his role as an LGBTQ rights advocate above all else. “My shoulders carry more than my country’s pride,” he says in the clip, hoisting a rainbow flag. “They carry my community’s pride, my family’s pride, and pride in myself.”
The significance of appearing before a rainbow flag in a nationally televised ad isn’t lost on the athlete, who said the campaign “resonated” with his journey.
“Before coming out, I was carrying so much pressure that I put on myself,” Kenworthy, who first opened up about his sexuality in a 2015 interview with ESPN magazine after competing at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, a year prior, said in a statement. “It wasn’t until I made the decision to come out that I was able to release that weight off my shoulders and find the confidence to be myself, which allowed me to perform my best.”
He shared his excitement with fans on Twitter and Instagram.
John Brownlee, Head & Shoulders’ brand director, praised Kenworthy as a worthy inspiration for athletes and would-be Olympians.
“He has pushed through personal and social barriers to compete at the highest level … and at his personal best,” Brownlee said in a statement. “We are so excited to be on this journey with him at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, and we know he will inspire others to shoulder their own greatness, no matter what obstacles they face.”
In addition to the commercial, Kenworthy will star in a new Complex video series that “dives deeper into how he’s been able to shoulder the compounding pressures of being a successful athlete” and explores his coming out journey.
No doubt Kenworthy’s accomplishments put him in a unique position when it comes to influencing the global conversation on queer acceptance. Go Gus!
Private Christian school headteacher rapped a girl, nine, with a ruler up to 10 times before hitting her over the head
- Court heard Rally Ikiebe regularly hit pupils at the school in South London
- Allegedly blamed schoolgirl for talking she heard coming from classroom
- Schoolgirl cannot be named for legal reasons
By William Turvill
Published: 21:12 GMT, 4 November 2013 | Updated: 21:12 GMT, 4 November 2013
Headmistress Rally Ikiebe punished a nine-year-old girl by rapping her on the knuckles, a court heard
The headmistress of a Christian private school punished a nine-year-old girl by rapping her on the knuckles with a ruler before drawing blood by hitting her on the head, a court heard.
Rally Ikiebe, 50, allegedly regularly hit pupils at the £8,000-a-year Chrysolyte Independent School in Southwark, South London.
On this occasion, the headteacher beat the girl after she heard talking coming from one of the classrooms.
She blamed the schoolgirl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and hit her between five and ten times on the knuckles with a ruler 'so it would hurt more', it is claimed.
The girl, who fell off chair and lay crying on the floor as she was hit, was also struck twice across her head, Inner London Crown Court heard.
She was hit with such force that her hands were bruised and her head started bleeding on the bus home from school, it is claimed.
In a police interview, played on TV screens to the jury, the girl revealed that teachers at the school would often use rulers for beating.
She said her teacher, known as ‘Matron’, told her to 'put her hands out' and then told her to turn them 'that way, knuckles up'.
The pupil said: 'She got a flexible ruler and she hit me on the knuckles hard.
'I was crying so hard. I was on my knees in front of my friends - it was really embarrassing. Then she started to hit me over the head.
'Then she said: "It’s time to go to the school bus - pick up your things and go."
'Sitting on the bus something hurt, I scratched it again. Matron hit me so hard that I started bleeding on my head'
The child’s mother took photos of her daughter’s injuries and phoned Ikiebe and her husband, Reverend Joseph Ikiebe, a co-founder of the school, to complain.
The couple went around to her home with a bottle of TCP at around midnight on the night of the incident, on January 17 last year, the court heard.
They begged her mother not to make a police complaint and to forgive Ikiebe because they were both Christians.
Ikiebe, back right with cream top, is alleged to have regularly hit pupils at the £8,000-a-year Southwark school
The schoolgirl said: 'She said that because we all come from Christian families we all have to forgive each other.'
It was not until six months later that she called police, who arrested the teacher.
But the schoolgirl revealed that ‘Matron’ had given out brutal beatings to pupils on other occasions, giving them extra strokes if they screamed.
The schoolgirl said on one occasion a new pupil was left quaking in fear.
She said: 'Everybody would get hit. The new boy was scared. He said: "Why am I getting tortured?"'
She told the court the teacher said: '"Whoever screams will get extra strokes." She would give us three and if you scream you get five.'
Ikiebe confessed to hitting the girl on the knuckles, but insists she only did it to disarm the pupil.
She claims the child was holding a pointed compass and she feared the schoolgirl was going to stab other kids.
But Giles Curtis-Raleigh, prosecuting, said: 'She decided to punish her. She asked to take a ruler from one of the other children and told the alleged victim to hold her hands out knuckles up so it would hurt more, and she hit her over her hand a number of times.'
Handing out photos to the jury showing the injuries the youngster received, he added: 'You can see what appears to be caked blood from a cut.
'And you can see several linear injuries on the hands.'
The teacher denied hitting the girl on the head at the Inner London Crown Court trial
The teacher, from Plumstead in south-east London, denied hitting the girl on the head and insists she got her injuries when she hit a radiator after falling off her chair.
Accompanied by her husband and other family members, she appeared in court dressed in black trousers and a knitted light brown jumper.
She denies one charge of causing actual bodily harm.
The school has been temporarily closed by the Department of Education after the allegations surfaced.
The case continues.
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