Despite a shock exit from the 10m platform semi-final yesterday, Matthew Mitcham, one of the very few openly gay male Olympians says that he has decided not to retire from sport after the London 2012 Olympics.
The diver, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, came 13th in yesterday’s semi-final, narrowly missing a place in the final and says that he will instead reinvent himself as a three-metre springboard champion.
The 24-year-old is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying: “Before coming to London, I’d pretty much decided that this was going to be my last Olympics. I was going to retire, just because of all the injuries and everything.
“I couldn’t see it getting any better, just how wearing 10m is on the body … but once I got here, all bets were off.
“The Olympics is just the most amazing experience and I never want to miss another one again. In no matter what capacity — whether it’s a diver, maybe just a springboard diver, or whether it’s media or anything, I’m definitely going to be in Rio, no matter what.”
Mitcham told journalists that 3m springboard was a possibility. He has experience as a 1m, 3m and 10m diver. Australia’s Ethan Warren finished in seventh place at the 3m final, two places ahead of Great Britain’s Chris Mears, the gold medal snatched by Ilya Zakharov of Russia.
“I do have a history as a springboard diver, but I’ve never been solely a springboard diver”, Mitcham said.
“I’ve always been a platform diver and done springboard either to fill spots, or just because I was sort of semi-OK at it.
“But I have been in discussion with Chava my coach about the possibility of becoming solely a springboard diver … I’m not really going to take a holiday when I get home — I’m actually going to start working on the strength required to be a springboard diver straight away.
“It’s going to take a long time to get my thighs as big as [China's] He Chong’s.”
Mitcham said that he wasn’t sure if he would completely give up on 10m platform contests: “I don’t know yet. I need to give my body a rest, because I haven’t done that in the last couple of years, and that probably has been my mistake.
“Who knows? I may not want to let all that platform talent go to waste. I might be a synchro partner for James Connor at Rio.”
For the two years leading up to the London 2012 Games, Mitcham suffered injuries in particular of his spine and a torn abdominal muscle. The event was eventually won by David Boudia with Bo Qiu picking up silver and Tom Daley bronze.
Silencing his critics, Mitcham said: “I could never have done more.
“That’s what I have to say to make myself feel better … [and] no one can take that [gold medal] away from me, and that’s another thing that I can use as consolation, that I’m always going to be an Olympic champion.
Mitcham disappointed his legions of gay fans by failing to win a gold medal this year. He’d promised on Twitter that if he won, he’d perform a 10m dive naked. Some joked that the fear of that dive flopping for totally different reasons put him off.