07/23/2014 07:26 EDT | Updated 09/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Olympic hopeful Connor Taras talks about coming out as gay

As Pride week celebrations continue in Halifax, a prominent Nova Scotia paddler has found himself in the spotlight after publicly talking about his sexuality.

Connor Taras, 25, of Waverley, says he's relieved about coming out as gay and he's pleased with the positive reaction he's getting from friends, competitors and people around the world.

On the water is where Taras is most comfortable. He's a former world junior medalist and just missed making the 2012 Olympic team by half a second.

​As a high performance kayaker, Taras would go to Florida each winter for extensive training.

As a gay athlete who still hadn't come out, he said the hours off the water spent with the rest of the men's team were the toughest.

"That's when I found it really hard to hide who I actually was. It was a constant game, from the minute I woke up, to the minute I went to sleep," he said.

Taras said he lost his confidence, and both his training and performance suffered as a result.

But nine months ago, he made the decision to come out.

He first told his best friend and then his family.

He said it was an easier experience than he thought it would be.

Now, Taras wants to share his experience with others.

"It's OK to be homosexual in sport and still compete at the highest level," he said.

Since the Toronto Star did an article on Taras’s coming out, he's been receiving messages of support from all around the world.

"You're helping so many people right now, trying to make this a better world, thank you," read one of the messages.

Taras said he feels relieved not to be carrying the burden of his secret.

He's now focusing all his efforts on making the 2016 Canadian Olympic team to compete in the Rio games.