Osian Jones is the first Welsh athlete to represent Great Britain at a World Championships. He’s also openly gay and has used his fame to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in sport.
Osian Jones is a Welsh hammer thrower, who has been competing in the sport for over 10 years. He recently came out as gay, which he said was a difficult decision to make.
‘I’ve had a lot of candid, frank discussions.’
It’s the spring of 2020, and Osian Jones is standing in the middle of a Welsh field on a piece of plywood.
Because the nation is under lockdown, the athlete, who owns the Welsh men’s hammer record, has had to adjust his training plan after going home to the family farm.
Jones prepares to hurl another throw into the distance under slate-grey sky, the landscape stretching out before him.
The only issue is that he isn’t alone.
“I was sharing the field with the cows and lambs, which proved a little challenging at times,” the Welshman chuckles.
“The cows would believe I was there to feed them every time I went out. I’d attempt to scare them away, but I needed to call my father, who is a farmer and has the ability to scatter them.”
It was a far cry from the 28-year-normal old’s training practices, which included a seventh-place performance in the hammer at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018.
On the other hand, it’s been an interesting couple of years in general.
Jones is ready to explain why in an exclusive conversation with the’s LGBT Sport Podcast.
‘I want the LGBTQ+ community to know that I’m a part of it, too.’
Jones approached the show a month ago, volunteering to speak publicly about his sexuality for the first time after coming out to close friends last year.
His path to this point hasn’t been straightforward, and he hasn’t assigned a name to his sexuality.
Instead, he prefers to identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
He comments, “I’ve been listening to your podcasts and really like the casual style of them.”
“I’m a quiet person by nature, but I want others in the community to know I’m a part of it, and doing something like this helps me gain confidence and go ahead.”
“You know, I came out last year and it was a really tough moment for me.” I had a lot of trouble with it and had to put in a lot of effort, but I think I’ve finally gotten through it.
“I also thought it was important to help in the sense of being public about it,” she says.
Osian Jones has competed in two Commonwealth Games for Wales.
‘I couldn’t bear the thought of not being straight.’
Coming to grips with his identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community required time and emotional energy for Jones.
He says, “I realized I was struggling with a lot of internalized homophobia and that I wasn’t OK with the concept of not being straight.”
“I watched a lot of coming out videos on YouTube and listened to a lot of podcasts, and everyone talks how great it feels to come out, but I didn’t get that sensation at all.”
“In reality, I didn’t say anything about it since I didn’t understand it.”
“You know, I was trying to qualify for the Olympics, and I built a bit of a hole for myself because I wasn’t being upfront and honest about how I was feeling.”
“I didn’t want to workout at all. At that time, it didn’t matter to me.”
Jones was able to come to grips with his feelings thanks to some advise from his coach, who also happens to be in a same-sex relationship.
“She was the first person I told, and although I was clearly apprehensive, I knew she’d be there for me and be supportive,” the Welshman adds.
“When I told her I was gay, she responded, ‘First square this in your brain, then we’ll be great.’
“I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I believe she understood that I’d have to figure it out for myself and make a deliberate effort to accept it and be OK with it.”
“You know, I don’t believe people often question how you feel about it when you come out.”
“‘How is your family doing?’ ‘How are your friends?’ or ‘How are your friends?’ – so it’s a different story when you realize you’re not okay with it.”
Jones claims he isn’t interested in putting a label on his sexuality.
‘I haven’t had any bad feedback since coming out.’
Jones took a break in the midst of last season to attempt to cope with his emotions.
“I was just so uncertain,” he adds, “so I made a deliberate effort to concentrate on myself.”
“I chatted with a lot of kind and supportive folks in the community.” My attention shifted to learning about the culture and gathering as much information as possible from the people in my life – and I’ve had a lot of open and honest talks with my family and friends, and they’ve been amazing.
“I also realized that I’m really lucky to be able to say that, since coming out hasn’t resulted in any bad reactions.”
“It seemed like the most underwhelming thing I’ve ever done in some ways, because I built it up and grew so worried – and then you say it and quickly feel better.”
‘I’m just trying to move on with my life, but it’s nice to assist others.’
Jones may have been destined for a career as a hammer thrower. After seeing the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester as a child, he was encouraged to pursue a career as an athlete.
He was so impressed that when he was 12 years old, he got a scolding from his father for creating his own ‘hammer’ out of rope and a watering can and launching it into the family’s satellite dish.
With three big tournaments coming up in July and August, those years of effort will be put to the test once again.
“We’ve got the Worlds, Europeans, and Commonwealth Games on our schedule,” Jones adds.
“The Commonwealth Games are always a top priority for me, and I’d want to place first.”
Whatever Jones does this year, he’ll be doing it as an out, open member of the LGBTQ+ community for the first time.
“To be honest, another reason I felt driven to tell my experience is because of that,” he adds.
“I still don’t believe there are any out athletes, even today.”
“I believe things are extremely macho and ‘alpha male’ in the throwing events, which I am not, and I think it’s vital to be honest and public – particularly when I relied on so many other people’s experiences to aid me.”
“I’m having a great time training and competing, and I’m excited to see how this confidence affects my performance – and personally, I’m feeling great.”
“And it helped me realize what’s truly essential since I despised every single second of last season.”
“So all I want to do now is try to enjoy this one, to go out there and throw personal bests, and to have a great season.”
On the’s LGBT Sport Podcast, Osian Jones spoke with Jack Murley. Sounds broadcasts new episodes every Wednesday.