Olympics winner: ‘Being gay cost me sponsorships’
Matthew Mitcham, the Australian diver who won the ten-metre platform gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, has said he believes he lost sponsorship deals due to being openly gay.
According to the Daily Telegraph, he said: “I haven’t experienced any homophobia in sport but I’m hoping I’m not experiencing any in the corporate world because I haven’t had any companies rushing to sponsor me,” he said.
“It took me a very long time to secure any form of sponsorship after the Olympics, and that’s still my only sponsorship.”
Mitcham, 20, beat 14-year-old Brit Tom Daley to make history by receiving the highest mark for an individual dive at an Olympic Games.
He came out in a newspaper interview shortly before the Games began and has since become something of a gay role model.
When asked how he felt on the responsibility, he said: “As soon as anybody looks up to you, you automatically become a role model whether you choose to be or not, and you can either embrace it or not.
“I choose to embrace it and try to be the best role model I can be.”
Mitcham was previously a trampolining champion before being spotted by a coach at a pool who thought he had potential to succeed at diving.
He battled depression and anxiety, taking a year-long break before returning to the sport to claim gold.
In February, he was named as one of three new ambassadors for the Australian government’s men’s health policy.