As someone with zero interest in sports, the Olympics have always struck me as an overhyped institution. The Winter Games are particularly boring, but let's see past that for the jocks. The hot ones from the men's side of the U.S. Olympic team.
Blogger Matt Hennie is the founder and managing editor of Project Q Atlanta. He’s a longtime Atlanta resident who’s worked in journalism since his days as a Purple Paladin at Furman University in the early ‘90s.
Never one to pass by a Matthew Mitcham story without stopping, I caught a new interview the Olympic swimming stud has with a gay media outlet in which he talks about coming out, a lack of endorsements and — this is fresh material — his role as Ambassador for Men’s Health in Australia.
More after the jump.
Matthew Mitcham, the gay Australian diver who made Olympic history, says he was surprised to be the only out male among the more than 10,000 Olympic athletes during the Beijing Games.
"It's a little bit sad I think, because statistically there should be a lot more but, you know what, it's each to one's own. I'm not going to pressure anybody else to come out of the closet because it's their own choice. But I'm proud to be there, proud to be that one, that lots of other people can look up to."
Mt. Olive Pickle Company and Vlasic take note: Michael Phelps won't be endorsing you anytime soon.
The record-setting Olympian hates pickles. He also must have a cellphone, his worst habit is sleeping through the alarm and Michael Jordan is his biggest influence. Those little nuggets came out during Phelps' stop in Atlanta on Wednesday as part of a nationwide tour to talk to children about setting goals and maintaining active lifestyles. Unfortunately, he was fully clothed in jeans, sweater and hat.
There's more, including additional photos, after the jump.
A deal might be near for Matthew Mitcham.
The gay Australian diver, who swept to prominence and gold during the Beijing Olympics last month, may soon be nearing his first endorsement deal. He recently signed with Grand Slam International for management and marketing representation and word is making the rounds of the blogosphere that he might soon be pitching for aussieBum.
There's more, including a Mitcham commercial, after the jump.
Bob Costas, NBC's prime time host for its coverage of the Beijing Olympics, talks about the network's lackluster coverage of Matthew Mitcham in a wide-ranging interview with AfterElton.com.
The veteran sports journalist responded to criticism that NBC failed to discuss Mitcham's life outside the pool in the same way it approached coverage of other Olympic athletes.
Mitcham was the only openly gay male competitor in Beijing, one of at least 11 gay, lesbian and bisexual athletes at the Games. His gold was one of seven medals won by gay athletes this year, one more than the 11 gay athletes nabbed in the Athens Games four years ago. Yet NBC's coverage failed to note that or call attention to boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher, who sat with Mitcham's mom in the Water Cube.
More on the interview after the jump.
Like this would ever happen in the U.S.
Matthew Mitcham, the gay Australian diver who shocked the Beijing Olympics by snagging a gold in the 10-meter platform, will soon be featured on a series of Olympic stamps from the Australian Post. But, according to a report from Outsports, he has yet to snag a sponsorship deal.
Out gay and lesbian Olympians took seven medals during the Beijing Games, the highest profile of which was Matthew Mitcham. WIth his cover boy looks, compelling (and very public) coming out and thrilling come-from-nowhere win for the gold, he took center stage in both gay and non-gay media outlets.
“Mitcham won a high profile event, he won it in prime time and he won it by beating the people who were supposed to be unbeatable,” said Jim Buzinski, co-founder of Outsports.com, whose Olympics blog received so much traffic during Mitcham’s performance Saturday that it crashed the site’s computer servers for two hours. “This is the most significant win ever by an openly gay male athlete.”
But what's the impact of the gay medals? I explored that question with Buzinski, author Patricia Nell Warren and two local folks -- Sean Fitzgerald, president of the Atlanta Rainbow Trout, and Mike Horton, chair of the Atlanta Gay Sports Alliance -- in my recent Southern Voice sports column. Read it here.
It's Bryan Clay versus Michael Phelps in a post-Olympic competition.
In a chase for the gold after the Olympics, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes beat out General Mills and its Wheaties. Or did they?
The money chase seems to say yes, with Kellogg's landing Phelps thanks to its bigger marketing checkbook and seemingly bigger draw with Phelps' eight gold medals and all.
Clay (photo) argues that he's the better athlete, given the wider range of skills needed to take gold in the decathlon versus swimming. Winning the decathlon, after all, brings along the title of "World's Best Athlete." And Wheaties has him.
Compare the box covers after the jump.
There’s nothing quite like getting your day started munching on some Wheaties and staring at the orange box featuring decathlete Bryan Clay, who’s ripples and bulges tranfixed many a gay Olympic fan this month. Starting in September, you’ll get just that chance.
General Mills, maker of the crispy flakes, announced that Clay and gymnast Nastia Liukin will get their own special edition Wheaties boxes. Liukin won five gold medals in Beijing and helped the U.S. win silver in the competition. Clay was the first American to win the decathlon since Dan O’Brien did so in 1996. Michael Phelps, by the way, is heading to General Mills rival Kellogg.
Check out the box covers after the jump.
NBC missed the mark in its coverage of Matthew Mitcham's gold-medal performance at the Olympics on Saturday, shying away from even mentioning that the Australian diver is gay.
It was a pretty clear part of his story -- his boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher was in the stands and played a large role in getting Mitcham to return to the sport. NBC mentioned his "personal problems" on air, but failed to offer details. This from the same network that included all the details of Mitcham's coming out in his bio on the network's Olympics web site.
When criticized for their sloppy coverage, NBC argued that they had done nothing wrong.
Michael Phelps' bank account just got fatter.
The Olympian, fresh off his record-setting haul of eight gold medals in Beijing, inked a deal with the Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster for a $1.6 million advance on a book to be called "Built to Succeed." And nearly as fast as Phelps himself, the book will hit stores in December. He's already picked up a $1 million bonus from Speedo and is expected to take about $10 million by year's end.
In the book, which is being called an "inspirational memoir," the publisher said that Phelps will reveal the secrets of his success, and give a behind-the-scenes look at his approach to training, competition and winning. The narrative thread is expected to be the eight final swims of the 2008 games.
The media juggernaut that is Phelps also appeared on the Aug. 25 issue of Sports Illustrated with his eight golds draped across his bare chest, a remake of the Mark Spitz cover in 1972. But true to form, Phelps has outdistanced Spitz there, too. He's snagged five SI covers to three for Spitz.
Matthew Mitcham did two surprising things in Beijing. He scooped a gold medal from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team and told anyone who asked that he is gay. Two years ago the 20-year-old was not even diving. He had retired, burnt out by years of dedication to a gruelling sport, but came back for shot at gold.
“Everything, absolutely everything I have done, has been for this,” he said. “Now it’s happened and I never thought it would.”
The Olympics blog on Outsports includes idepth coverage and analysis, including announcing the historic occasion, discussing how NBC ignored Mitcham's sexual orientation in its coverage, how his partner stood by Mitcham's side and an excellent video montage of his final dives and going into the stands to chase down his partner.
There's also this photo slide show from Yahoo! Sports.
Matthew Mitcham, the gay Aussie diver, failed to make the finals in the 3-meter competition Tuesday, finishing 16th out of 18 divers. Mitcham is the only openly gay make athlete at the Beijing Olympics and one of 10 gay athletes there.
Mitcham, who returns to the pool Friday for the 10-meter platform competition, blamed nerves for his performance.
Mitcham however was disappointed that he had let nerves get the better of him and would use the experience for a better performance in the 10 metre platform, for which he believed he was in better form.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed. I went out there to do my best an unfortunately I didn’t do that but I did try my best so for the 3m competition that will have to be enough for me. But for the 10 metre (platform) that won’t cut the mustard for me so I’ll just be bringing it for the 10 metre.”
Soccer stud David Beckham, not content to cede the media spotlight to Michael Phelps, will appear at the Olympics next week as part of the official handover ceremony from Beijing to London on Aug. 24. Becks will arrive at the Bird's Nest atop a double-decker bus and kick a soccer ball into the crowd.
Phelps, not to be outdone, will visit London on his way home from the Games in a marketing tour that's part of an effort to cash in on his eight gold medals.
Amid all of this flesh-trading is grumbling that London Olympic organizers can't keep details of their preparations quiet. I guess it's easier in China when an oppressive regime is in charge, so focused on image that they tape over logos on toilet stalls.
The only place where the action in Beijing seems to be lacking is the Olympic Village. The 10,500 athletes on hand for the Games aren't picking up free condoms that were all the rage in Sydney and Athens. I guess the Redeem Team and Kobe Bryant brought their own.
There's 100,000 free condoms up for grabs for the athletes and some two-thirds of them are going unused. Uh, the math on that means nearly 10 condoms per athlete for an event that lasts 17 days. In Vancouver in 2010, there will be 18 condoms for each of the 5,500 athletes. Even Kobe can't need that many.
Wondering how Michael Phelps does what he does so well? Bob Costas narrates an interesting look into the physiology of the most decorated Olympian ever in this video. As you ponder how he might capture his eighth medal of this Olympics tonight, the piece provides a few answers (and some nice shots of Phelps).
Costas’ conclusion? A mix of “superior genetics and immense dedication.” Seventeen races, two miles of laps and eight days of competition. Simply amazing.
The U.S. men’s gymnastics team took bronze on Tuesday, surprising pundits who believed the Hamm-less crew would flop. Even if they didn’t drape the bronze medal over those muscled chests, this photo of the team is certainly medal-worthy. Eight-pack, anyone?