'WEIGHT OFF MY SHOULDERS'

Associated Press
United States' Megan Rapinoe celebrates her goal during a semifinal women's soccer match between the United States and Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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United States' Megan Rapinoe celebrates her goal during a semifinal women's soccer match between the …

U.S. women's soccer midfielder Megan Rapinoe came out this year. She's also scored three goals at the Olympics, including two in the semifinal win over Canada.

Coincidence?

"I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders," Rapinoe said on the eve of Thursday's gold medal match against Japan, "because I've been playing a lot better than I've ever played before. I think I'm just enjoying myself and I'm happy."

Rapinoe said the reaction to her decision to publicly acknowledge that she is a lesbian has been favorable.

"I don't look into it too much — I think that can be a bit dangerous," she says. "But I think everything I've seen thus far has been extremely positive. I think people were welcoming of it."

It's no longer a big deal when a female athletes come out, but Rapinoe said that men still face a double standard.

"I think there's a lot of gay women in sports, and it's widely known in the team, they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media," Rapinoe says. "But I think for men unfortunately it's not the same climate in the locker room. I think the homophobia is maybe a little overestimated. I think that a lot of stars have come out and said that we would accept a gay man in our locker room with no problem, and hopefully it's only matter of time before that happens."

— Joseph White — Twitter http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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