Australian diver comes out ahead of Olympics

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Like many athletes around the world, Australian Matthew Mitcham fought his way to the top of his sport to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Unlike many of his Olympic counterparts however, the diver must fight to bring his life partner with him to the Games.

Mitcham, 20, came out in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald this Sunday.

Now, he will compete on the 10-metre platform, diving for the gold as Australia’s only openly gay Olympic athlete.

What Mitcham would like more than anything else is for his longtime partner, Lachlan, who fought the tumultuous battle of Olympic dreams with Mitcham, to be there in the stands cheering him on.

The young diver and his partner currently do not have the funds to get Lachlan to Beijing, but Mitcham tells the SMH that Johnson & Johnson offers an Athlete Support Programme that would allow for friends and family of those competing to travel to the competition.

It has been a long road for Mitcham.

For a long time the young athlete had to battle depression, which led him to see psychologists and a brief time on medication.

Then, after both a physical and mental burnout, he decided to retire from the sport while still a teenager.

Nine months later he realised he had not yet lived his dream and, literally, dove back in head first.

Just last week Mitcham was back in action in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, competing in the USA Diving Grand Prix.

Maybe a little bit to his own surprise, Mitcham fought the elements and took home the gold, besting two Chinese divers that will be gunning for him in a few short months in Beijing.

If things come together for Mitcham, he could become only the second openly gay diver with some gold medal hardware on his mantle.

Greg Louganis, a three-time Olympian, came out as gay shortly after returning from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

Louganis won gold on the 3-metre spring board and 10-metre platform at both the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the Seoul Games, as well as taking a silver medal in the 10 metre at the 1976 Montreal Games.

Come August, all eyes will be on the 10 metre platform once again.

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