Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Matthew Mitcham: Olympic Diver

Born March 2, 1988 in Brisbane.

One of only a handful of openly gay athletes to participate at the Beijing Olympics, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in men's 10m platform diving. He ruined China’s hopes of going 8 for 8 gold medals and received the highest single-dive score (112.1, including four perfect 10 scores) in Olympic history. He is the first Australian male to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since Dick Eve at the 1924 Summer Olympics.

Few know that Mitcham originally competed as a trampoline gymnast. As such he represented Australia at the World Junior Championships in 1999 and 2001, winning the double mini-tramp event. He also competed at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in 2003, finishing sixth. From 2002 he competed as a diver. He took a year-long break from diving in 2006 and began training in 2007 with a new coach. The rest is Olympic history.

After viewing the scoreboard, Mitcham cried and bounced around the pool deck before climbing up to the stands to embrace his boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher. "It's going to take a while to sink in," Mitcham said. "My cheeks hurt from smiling. My face hurts from the chlorine. My legs are sore from jumping up and down. I'm in pain and I'm tired. But I'm so happy."

Mitcham’s boyfriend Fletcher attended the 2008 Summer Olympic Games as a spectator, and his trip expenses were covered by Johnson & Johnson's Athlete Family Support Program. In the following photo, Mitcham gives Fletcher some sugar and his Olympic bouquet following his Olympic gold moment.

Mitcham's medal was followed by the Australia Post issuing a 50 cent stamp of him on September 26, one day after his Olympic victory.

In 2009, Mitcham secured financial support from the Australian telecommunications provider Telstra, proof that openly gay athletes can win major endorsement contracts. In March 2010, Matthew Mitcham was announced as the new face of Funky Trunks, an Australian brand of swimwear seeking expansion into international markets. The photo below is from a Funky Trunks print ad campaign.

Here’s a video recap of the dive that brought the glory to Australia and pride to gay men all over the world.

Matthew Mitcham - Final Dive Beijing
Uploaded by Cecilyn. - News videos from around the world.

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