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Matthew_Mitcham

Matthew Mitcham

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Matthew Mitcham (born 2 March, 1988 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) is an Australian diver. He is the 2008 Olympic champion in the 10m platform, having received the highest single-dive score in Olympic history. He is the first Australian male to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since Dick Eve at the 1924 Summer Olympics, and was the only openly gay male medal winner at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Biography

Career

Mitcham originally competed as a trampoline gymnast. He was discovered by Wang Tong Xiang, a coach at the Australian Institute of Sport Diving Program, while at the Chandler Aquatic Centre in Brisbane's suburbs, and continued with both diving and trampolining for several years.

As a trampolinist, Mitcham represented Australia at the World Junior Championships in 1999 and 2001, winning the double mini-tramp event. He also competed at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in 2003, finishing sixth.

From 2002 through 2004, Mitcham was a national junior champion in diving, winning the events in which he competed. Mitcham competed at the 2002 World Junior Diving Championships, where he placed 11th in the 1m springboard, 5th in the 3m and 16th in the 10m platform. In 2004, he won the silver medals in the 1m, 3m synchronized, and 10m platform events at the World Junior Championships. At the 2004 Junior Nationals, he won the 1m, 3m, and 10m and 3m synchro titles. At the 2004 Olympic Trials, he placed 3rd on the 3m and 10m individual events, 2nd on the 3m and 10m synchro events, and did not qualify for the Olympic team. In 2005, Mitcham won his first senior national title. He competed at the Australian Olympic Youth Festival, where he won the silver medal in the 1m with a score of 508.35, and won the 3m, 10m and 3m synchro (with Scott Robertson) titles with scores of 565, 555.8, and 316.23 respectively. At the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal, he placed 12th on the 10m platform with a score of 560.73.

In 2006, Mitcham competed in the German Grand Prix event, placing 16th on the 3m and 6th on the 10m, and at the USA Grand Prix at Fort Lauderdale, placing 8th on the 3m springboard. At the Canada Cup he placed 26th on the 3m and won the bronze medal on the 10m platform. He represented Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he competed in the 1m, 3m, and 10m events. He placed 4th in the 3m and the 3m synchro with Robertson, and 5th on the 1m and 10m events.

Taking a break from the sport in 2006, he returned in 2007 and started to train under current coach Chava Sobrino at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. In 2008 Mitcham won the 1m, 3m and 10m individual events at the Australian Nationals. Later that year he won the 2008 Diving Grand Prix event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

2008 Summer Olympics

Mitcham represented Australia at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 10-metre platform and the 3-metre springboard events. He placed 16th on the 3m springboard and did not qualify for the final. He qualified in second position for the semi-final and final of the 10m platform event. After experiencing mixed success in his first five dives in the final, Mitcham entered the final round of dives in second place, 34 points behind Chinese diver Zhou Luxin. After Zhou performed his worst dive of the final and scored 74.80, Mitcham still needed to score 107.30, a very high score on the platform, to win the gold. However, his near-perfect final dive drew four perfect 10 scores from judges and achieved a score of 112.10, the highest single-dive score in Olympic history. He finished with an overall score of 537.95 to defeat Zhou, who finished with an overall score of 533.15, to win Australia's second diving medal of the Games. His win prevented China from claiming a clean-sweep of all diving gold medals at the Olympic Games. He is the first Australian male to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since Dick Eve in 1924.

It's absolutely surreal. I never thought that this would be possible, 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.|30px|30px|Mitcham|
Mitcham's medal was followed by the Australia Post issuing a 50 cent stamp of him. His stamp was issued on 26 September, one day after his victory.

Personal life

Mitcham was born in Brisbane but lives and trains in Sydney. He publicly came out as gay in 2008 to the Sydney Morning Herald when they were profiling Olympic hopefuls. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he was also featured on the cover of the international gay publication The Advocate.

Mitcham's partner, Lachlan Fletcher, attended the 2008 Summer Olympic Games as a spectator. His trip was sponsored by a grant from Johnson & Johnson's Athlete Family Support Program.

Mitcham gained media coverage as the first Australian to compete at the Olympic Games as openly gay at the time of his competition , though this was inaccurate, as Mathew Helm, who competed in the same event, was also out before the Olympics began. Other notable gay Australian Olympians include Ji Wallace, who competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal in the inaugural trampoline event; however, he came out after the Games.

Prior to his 10m platform win, Mitcham was reported to be one of only eleven openly gay athletes competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, out of 11,028 athletes from 204 countries.

References

External links

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