Mountain View native Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic figure skating gold medalist, announced Thursday that he is gay.

He made the statement two days after President Obama named him to the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia. Boitano, 50, will join tennis legend Billie Jean King and other openly gay athletes on the delegation that is being viewed as a message by the Obama administration against Russia's recent anti-gay laws.

"I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so," Boitano said in a statement. "I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am."

Now living in San Francisco, Boitano added, "It has been my experience from competing around the world and in Russia that Olympic athletes can come together in friendship, peace and mutual respect regardless of their individual country's practices."

Boitano won the gold medal in Calgary in one of the most riveting men's competitions. He defeated Canadian Brian Orser in what became known as the "Battle of the Brians."

Boitano still performs in ice shows. He also had a show on the Food Channel called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?"

"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance," he said in the statement. "As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."