In a cheerful and unintentional smack in the face to the repressive Chinese regime and to homophobia in sports, out gay diver Matthew Mitcham won the gold medal in 10-meter platform diving in Bejing today.
Mitcham had come out in several interviews, including Australia's SX, but says he's been out since he was 14.
The Sydney Herald Sun included mention of Mitcham's being the first out gay gold medalist in Olympic history. The Sydney Morning Herald also did an honest feature on him. The Advocate did a cover feature on him. Gay paper the Sydney Star Observer posted a short article about his success.
An excerpt from The News.com.au's feature:
AUSTRALIAN Matthew Mitcham last night produced the dive of his life to win a shock gold medal in the men's 10m platform and end host nation China's stranglehold on the Beijing Olympic diving competition.
The 20-year-old Sydney diver produced the highest scoring dive in the history of the Olympics with his sixth and final effort to become Australia's first male Olympic gold medallist in diving since Dick Eve in 1924.
Mitcham was trailing China's Zhou Luxin by more than 30 points leading into the final round, but scored a whopping 112.10 on his last dive - a back two and a half somersault with two and a half twists - to pull off an stunning upset.
Mitcham finished with an overall score of 537.95 to defeat Zhou (533.15), who had led the final until the final round, to grab Australia's second diving medal of the Games.
The openly homosexual Mitcham was in shock over his win last night.
"It's absolutely surreal. I never thought that this would be possible,'' Mitcham said.
"I wasn't even sure of my medal chances at all. After I did my last dive and I saw I was in first, I thought, "That's it, it's a silver medal, I am so happy with this' and then I won. I can't believe it, I'm so happy.
"I had some very wise words and some very good advice before coming into the 10m competition, to just enjoy it, have fun and that's what I thought right from the very first dive in the prelims to the very last dive in the final.
"I was definitely stressing it to myself, just enjoy the moment, there is nothing you can do to change what's about to happen, so just enjoy it and it worked.''
The result was a major turn-around for Mitcham from his performance in the 3m springboard, in which he failed to make the final after struggling to keep his nerves under control.
Mitcham's form going into last night's final was impressive after finishing second overall in the preliminaries and semi-finals, but he didn't quite get the start he wanted in the final with his opening dive scoring 73.50 to have him ranked equal ninth after the first round.
But he recovered with confidence to emerge as one of the unlikely stories of the Games for Australia.
"The first dive wasn't the best, the third dive wasn't the best, but there was nothing I could do about it except just enjoy the moment,'' he said.
"I knew that the best diving would come and the next three dives were really good for me.''
But Mitcham's gold almost wasn't to be. Mitcham walked away from the diving boards mid-way through 2006, feeling mentally and physically burnt out, but was lured back after watching his friends compete at last year's world championships. His decision was rewarded last night.
"Absoultely everything I have done has been for this,'' Mitcham said.
"Coming back and doing everything that I did was to win an Olympic gold medal. That was my aim when I was training every single day, twice a day, 11 sessions a week, 30 hours a week, before every single dive, it was like `I want to win Olympic gold' and that made me try my hardest in every single training session for the last year and a half.
"It was all worth it.''
Don't look for any mention of his being gay on NBC. They're too busy lavishing praise on the U.S. basketball and Jamacian track teams, and obsessing over the bikinia-clas Bush-loving women's vollyball team.
Fox Sports Australia has a photo gallery of Mitcham's victorious moment.
Here's a great montage of Matt's dives in 2008; some great, some okay, plus him doing some off-board training on mats:
More diving photos at Yahoo Sports. Watch a short video interview with matt, his mom, and his partner, Lachlan, at the Daily Telegraph site. More Flash photos galleries with audio of Aussie athletes HERE.