Gay cycling champion hopes to beat Edward Snowdon in becoming Glasgow University rector

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Retired cycling champion Graeme Obree is standing for the post of student rector at Glasgow University.

The final votes in the rector election at one of the UK’s oldest universities will be cast today.

Obree is a former student at the university who dropped out four months into a design engineering degree.

“The creation of a culture of support, diversity, understanding and encouragement is what appeals to me,” he said to the Press Association.

“A culture where wellbeing and healthy activity are seen as key components to a balanced life, a life that will enable students to build a solid base upon which they can face their own life challenges with confidence and vigour.”

The 48-year-old came out publicly as gay in January 2011 in a newspaper interview.

Known as the Flying Scotsman, he twice won the world individual pursuit title and also twice broke the world hour record.

He told the Scottish Sun that he previously tried to kill himself twice as he struggled to accept his sexual orientation.

In August 2011, Obree said that it would be “too awkward” to be an active sportsman and openly gay.

Along with Obree, author Alan Bissett and intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden have all been nominated for the post of student rector at Glasgow University.

The current occupant is former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

The role of rector is to represent student issues to senior management at the university, but previous incumbents have been elected as political statements.

Winnie Mandela was elected in 1987 and Israeli whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu became rector in 2005 despite students knowing that neither would be able to travel to Glasgow and take up the practical aspect of the position.

One of the most prominent gay figures in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth is also standing for the position.

The Press Association reports Rev Holdsworth saying: “Politically, I am a left-leaning liberal who is not currently aligned to any political party.

“Being an out gay man working in the church, I’ve developed a strong commitment to equality issues and human rights. Social media is my natural home and if elected, I will use online and digital means of communication with students as well as being a presence on campus.”

In April last year, Rev Holdsworth criticised former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey for attacking equal marriage.