Giant on the move
Snapshot Beijing, 4: The greatest dive in Olympic history
The Water Cube was almost silent as a slight blonde man who two years earlier was not even diving leapt off the ten metre platform, twisted and somersaulted through the air and slid into the water with just the slightest of splashes.
Matthew Mitcham resurfaced to an explosion of applause and as the judges’ scores came up his smile of delight dissolved into tears of disbelief.
He had snatched a medal gold from the Chinese favourites with just one, perfect dive.
For the next hour the Australian looked how I always imagined Olympic gold medalists should — overwhelmed with disbelief and delight.
In some ways it was incredible Mitcham was even in Beijing, much less topping the podium. He had battled depression and burnout, retired and come back before he turned twenty. And shortly before he came to Beijing he went public about his sexuality, the only openly gay male athlete at the Olympics.
I felt sorry for the Chinese diver who came second. But after watching his team mates take the other seven medals, some apparently more relieved to have done their duty than excited about the result, it was an unforgettable upset.
Kevin Fylan adds: This is the fourth in our series of snapshots from the Beijing Games, where Reuters reporters give their thoughts on what it was like to be there at the key moments of the Olympics.
More to follow over the course of the day.
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