Changing China

Giant on the move

Story of day 15: Mitcham’s amazing dive

August 24, 2008

Mitcham dives

Matthew Mitcham did two surprising things in Beijing. He scooped a gold medal from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team and told anyone who asked that he is gay.

Mitcham broke down in tears after a nearly perfect last dive edged him above the Chinese favourite into top place. It was the eighth and last medal in a sport that the host nation utterly dominates and was expected to sweep.

Mitcham is as fearless talking about his personal life as he is on the board.

He has been open about his sexuality, and according to a study by a gay sports website he is the only man among 10,500 Olympic athletes to publicly say he is gay.

Coming out is not a simple choice for a gay athlete. It could bring disapproval from fans or team mates and jeopardise sponsorship deals. Then there is the fact that media focus on the whole gay issue could overshadow an athlete’s sporting achievements.

Read Emma Graham-Harrison’s story of Mitcham’s incredible winning dive here.

PHOTO: Matthew Mitcham of Australia competes in the men’s 10m platform diving final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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