Gay Olympic gold medal winner’s new sponsorship deal
He is young, good-looking and has the powerful build that comes with years of training in the pool.
He also has an Olympic gold medal hanging round his neck, one he took from the Chinese in the last minutes of the Beijing Games last August.
So there was some surprise that Matthew Mitcham, 20, was not snapped up by advertisers on his return to Australia – so far he is the national face of Aussiebum, an underwear brand.
In a nation notorious for its single-minded obsession with sporting glory, it had been argued that Mr Mitcham’s open homosexuality may have been the reason that he was not offered the lucrative ad contracts that so many Olympians were rewarded with before him.
It has now been confirmed that the 20-year-old will represent telecoms company Telstra at events and product launches.
The company said he is a “positive role model for all Australians.”
Mr Mitcham said he thought the troubled economic situation was the reason he had not been picked up rather than his sexuality.
He declined to reveal how much the Telstra deal is worth.
“I was a little bit worried (about the lack of sponsors) so hopefully this will be a snowball effect, but I don’t want to count my chickens,” he said.
“If I can get the opportunity where I would be able to train without having to worry about paying the bills, that would be the ultimate goal.”
Mr Mitcham trains 11 times a week for the 2012 London Olympics.
He became a hero to gay people across the world when he won a diving gold in Beijing.
He was the only out gay male athlete to compete in the Games.
In a shocking upset, he took home a gold medal in the 10-metre platform event, beating the Chinese favourites.
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.
He was immortalised along with other gold medallists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics on a series of special commemorative stamps.
Mr Mitcham recently gave an interview to US gay magazine The Advocate:
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