The Australian Olympic champion, Matthew Mitcham, has said that he’s happy to be seen as an icon for the LGBT community, and did not mind the attention that would be drawn to his personal life as a result.
Mr Mitcham, 24, came out shortly before the Beijing olympics, where he won the 10-meter platform event, and received therein the highest single-dive score in the history of the games.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald after a training session in the eponymous city, he said: “I certainly don’t see it as a burden… I never did, especially with how much attention the LGBT cause has been getting lately with marriage equality…and with how few openly gay sports stars there are around at the moment.”
“Ideally,” he added, “I would like one day for sexuality to be as unimportant and uninteresting as hair color, or eye color or even just gender in general. One day it will get to that… But until it is easy for sports people to come out without fear of persecution or fear of lost sponsorship income and stuff like that, or fear of being comfortable in the team environment, I don’t mind attention being brought to my sexuality in the hope that it might make other people feel more comfortable…in being comfortable enough about who they are in their sporting environment.”
Although he had suffered from injuries since his appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the Guardian reports that he is back to form, with perfect scores from all seven judges on one of his dives at the Australian trials.