Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham “proud” to be gay role model

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Australian diver Matthew Mitcham has said he was “very surprised” that he was the only gay male athlete at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The 20 year old won a gold medal in the 10-metre platform event, beating the Chinese favourites.

“I was actually very surprised that I was the only ‘out’ male at the Olympic Games,” he told The Age newspaper.

“It’s a little bit sad because, statistically, there should be a lot more.

“But, you know what, it’s each to one’s own and I’m not going to pressure anybody to come out of the closet because it’s their own choice.

“But I’m proud to be there and proud to be that one that lots of other people can look up to.”

Mr Mitcham came out before the Games, but said that the subsequent publicity did not affect his performance in Beijing.

“It’s always just me, I’m comfortable with myself,” he said.

“At least it wasn’t a surprise to everybody else.

“And I am glad that I did it before I went away, than afterwards because there have been a few coming out after the Olympic Games and I just wanted to be a bit different.”

Despite intensive coverage of other gold medallist’s personal lives during the Games, US broadcaster NBC failed to mention Mitcham was gay, or show footage of the diver’s partner cheering him on and congratulating him after the win.

The network’s head of Olympics later conceded that NBC had been at fault.

“We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham’s story,” Gary Zenkel told AfterElton.com

“We apologise for this unintentional omission.”

Of the 11,000 athletes from 204 nations, just 11 out LGB people, Mr Mithcam and ten lesbian or bisexual athletes, competed.