Diver Matthew Mitcham is a favorite for a medal in the Beijing Olympics this summer. Like most of the athletes he’ll join, he brings a compelling story to the competition but one with a twist that, unfortunately, probably won’t be repeated this summer.
He’s doing what no Australian athlete – and few others from across the globe – have done by taking part in the Olympics as an openly gay competitor. Mitcham, 20, came out during a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald and talked about his struggles with his sexual orientation, his training regime and efforts to bring his boyfriend with him to the event.
“I look at the last 20 years as a long, winding path of lessons and some hardship. I hope the rest of my life isn’t straight because that could be boring. I hope it continues to wind, but maybe not so tumultuous.”
In its take on the story, Outsports shows how unique it is for an Olympic athlete to come out:
Multi-gold medalist Greg Louganis came out after his Olympic career ended in 1988. American David Pilcher competed while openly gay at Syndey in 2000. In the 2004 Athens Games, Outsports was able to document 11 openly gay and lesbian athletes.
Add to that list Bruce Hayes, the former Atlantan who won gold in the 1984 Olympics and later came out. In 1990, he became the first Olympic gold medalist to compete in the Gay Games.
Photo: Steve Cristo, Sydney Morning Herald