Today’s GLBT History Month icon is Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham. Born March 2, 1988, Mitcham won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a record-breaking dive. While continuing in his diving career and training for the 2012 Olympics, Mitcham has also become an advocate for LGBT rights, youth and bullying prevention.
From Equality Forum:
Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is one of the few openly gay Olympic athletes. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mitcham won a Gold Medal after executing the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history.
Mitcham grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He competed as a trampoline gymnast before being discovered by a diving coach. By the time he was 14, Mitcham was a national junior champion in diving. A few years later, he won medals in the World Junior Diving Championships.
In 2006, after battling anxiety and depression, Mitcham decided to retire from diving. The following year, Mitcham returned to diving and began training for the Olympics.
In Beijing, Mitcham won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 10-meter platform dive. After his Olympic triumph, he leaped into the stands to hug and kiss his partner, Lachlan Fletcher. It was the first time in over 80 years that an Australian male diver struck Olympic Gold.
Mitcham was the first out Australian to compete in the Olympics. There were only 11 openly gay athletes out of a total of over 11,000 competitors competing in Beijing.
In 2008, Mitcham was chosen 2008 Sports Performer of the Year by the Australian public. Australia GQ named him Sportsman of the Year. After accepting the GQ award, Mitcham joked, “Oh, my God, I’m a homo and I just won the sports award!”
Mitcham competed in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne. He is studying at Sydney University and training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“I look at the last 20 years as a long, winding path of lessons and some hardship,” Mitcham said in 2008. “I hope I do have more lessons to learn. I look forward to that.”
Here is a video of Mitcham, his mother and his partner Lachlan, following his win at the Beijing Olympics:
Mitcham has just competed in the Commonwealth Games and won four silver medals. Click here for more information.
Videos of Matthew Mitcham:
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