SALT LAKE CITY — Many civil rights groups said U.S. teams should boycott the 2014 Olympics after Russian president, Vladimir Putin, announced that the country would enforce laws that athletes or fans promoting a gay lifestyle would be arrested. However, a former Olympian from Utah said that shouldn't happen.
In 2002, Derek Parra skated into our lives while winning a gold medal in Salt Lake City's Olympics.
Today, he says representing his country, in his country, has been the highlight of his career.
"I can't imagine not having those 17 days in my memory, in my heart, today," said Parra at the Utah Olympic Ice Oval in Kearns Friday evening.
Parra helps run facilities and programs at the Ice Oval, and is thrilled younger athletes going to Russia's Olympic Games in 2014 will get to experience what he did.
"These are 4, 8, 12 years someone has been focusing on these 17 days in February every 4 years," said Parra.
That's also why he's happy President Barack Obama announced today that the USA would not boycott the Russian Olympics.
"I want to just make it very clear right now, I do not think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics," said President Obama during a speech.
"The Olympics aren't about politics. It's about sport," said Parra, "It's the dreams of the youth of our country and around the world."
However, many around the world are angry at Russia.
Civil rights group say the country is violating civil rights because of their laws against guys, and thus, should be stripped of hosting the Olympics.
However, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutkko says gay athletes and fans are welcome in their country.
They just don't want gays to promote their lifestyle, which would be in violation of Russian law.
"This law is not designed to violate people's rights no matter what country they are from, whatever their religion or their sexuality," said Mutko, "This law is designed to ban the propaganda among minors. That's what it's all about."
"This is something about personal rights, which is definitely important, but the Olympics is not the platform, I think, to express that," said Parra.
Parra says an Olympic boycott only hurts the athletes who have trained years to get there.
"Unfortunately, the Olympics is used as a platform sometimes for political statements, but it really shouldn't be," said Parra.