Gold medallist Matthew Mitcham will take a holiday out of the country for a few months after his stunning upset win in Beijing.
The 20-year-old Olympic debutant carried the expectations of Australia and the global GLBT community, and proved himself a world-class champion. His final dive in the 10m platform event, a back two-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists, was awarded 112.10 points -” the highest score in Olympic history.
He was the first male Australian diver to win an Olympic gold medal in 84 years and prevented the Chinese winning all eight diving gold medals at the games.
I was crying, thinking I had silver. And to get gold, I was a blubbering mess, Mitcham said after the victory.
I want to thank absolutely everyone who helped -” my partner Lachlan and my mum here to support me and watch me get gold -” because it was so important to have those two people here with me.
Lachlan’s trip was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson in the first such grant for a same-sex partner. His mother Vivien’s trip was paid for by a Sydney Star Observer reader who was inspired by Mitcham’s refreshing transparency.
He is who he is and doesn’t pretend to be something different, the supporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.
He has revealed to the world his depression, how he overcame it and succeeded, how he feels and who he loves -” that is why he is so popular.
It was now up to big Australian business to step in to sponsor the instant fan favourite like they would have his fellow aquatic medallists, the supporter added.
Accolades for Mitcham have come from all sections of the globe -” from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to regular supporters in Australia and overseas, and especially from the gay community.
Mitcham has been invited to join the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, and there have been calls from his Sydney fans for him to lead the Mardi Gras parade and be given keys to the city. Community groups are planning tribute events.
Prior to leaving Australia, Mitcham told SSO he didn’t want to labelled as just a gay diver rather than an athlete like any other, but Federation of Gay Games co-president Sion O’Connor said the Australian media had treated him on equal footing with his teammates during the competition and allowed him to tell his own story.
Matthew Mitcham does not need to be worried about being labelled as just an out gay diver from Australia, he will be labelled the highest scoring diver ever, she said.
However, media in other countries, notably NBC in the US, have been criticised for cutting away from Mitcham’s family and partner or any mention of his personal story, unlike its coverage of other athletes.