Ian Carlos Gonçalves de Matos, Brazil’s out diving star who competed in the 2016  Olympics, died Tuesday in Rio De Janeiro, following complications  from a throat infection. Matos was 32 years old. 

Matos had been in the hospital for two months for a throat infection, which ultimately spread to his stomach and lungs. 

“We are profoundly saddened to have received the news of the  premature death of the Olympic diver Ian Matos, aged just 32,”  Brazil’s Olympic Committee said in a statement. “Team Brazil acknowledges his contribution to the evolution of the  discipline. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.” 

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Athlete Ally tweeted, “Thinking of Ian Matos’ loved ones, and all he  inspired by being his authentic self, in the wake of this tragic loss.” 

Brazil’s Diving Star

Matos was born as Ian Carlos Gonçalves de Matos in Muaná, a city  located in the rural northern state of Pará, in the Amazon River Delta  region. Matos learnt to swim in the river when he was three years  old. 

Making his debut in international competition at the South American  Games in Medellin, Colombia, Matos took home three bronze medals;  in one-metre and three-metre Springboard and another for Men’s  Synchronised three-metre Springboard, shared with diving partner Rio  Machado.  

In the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Matos finished in eighth  place, with partner Luiz Outerelo, in Men’s three-metre Synchronised  Springboard. 

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Matos also competed at the 2019 Pan American Games, and finished  fourth in Men’s three-metre Synchronised Springboard at both the  2011 and 2015 Pan Am Games, with Cesar Castro.

Came Out Months After Tom Daley’s Coming Out

Matos came out in 2014, and said his decision to do so was inspired  by Tom Daley, who had just come out a few months before in a video  posted on YouTube. 

“When I saw it, I played with a friend. I said I was going to do it  too. He advised me to wait for the Olympics (in Rio, in 2016) only as  not to stop receiving sponsorship,” Matos told Correio

“It seems that, as a homosexual, you start one level down. I heard a lot ‘I won’t lose to a faggot’ or ‘I can’t believe you lost to a faggot.’” 

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“From a young age, I knew I was gay, but it was here that I got to live  my sexuality,” Matos said at the time, referring to his move to Brazilia  at age 17 to train. 

I’m Gay And  There’s Nothing Wrong With That

Matos became involved in the United Nations Free and Equal  campaign, which calls for “equal rights and fair treatment” for the  LGBTQIA+ community across the globe. 

“Everyone supported me. Everybody in the diving community  supported me. I had never identified with what is imposed by society  as masculine,” Matos said in a interview for the campaign. 

“When I was younger everyone used to say, ‘Ian is gay! Ian is gay’! I wondered ‘Am I gay? Really?’ I didn’t even know what it meant be  gay, and everyone told me I was during my childhood. Imagine a kid  who was afraid of diving and kept hearing other people say, ‘if you’re  scared, it’s because you’re gay, a sissy.’ Back then I already knew I was gay.” 

“The LGBT community needs people saying, ‘Look, I’m gay and  there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m normal, I’m a person, just like  anybody else,’” Matos said.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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