Australian diver Matthew Mitcham will forever be celebrated as the first out gay Olympic gold medalist, but the now-retired athlete just added another big “first” to his long list of accomplishments.
At a recent event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the 34-year-old was presented with his well-earned spot in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.Accepting the award, Mitcham reflected on his phenomenal showing at the Beijing Games in 2008. “In China, eight is a lucky number, and I know China was hoping to win all eight diving gold medals in Beijing 2008,” he said. “Having won the first seven of them, I remember hearing that the Chinese team were already celebrating winning the eighth medal before we had even dived the final.
It still feels like an extra incredible feat that I was the only person to beat the best divers in the world at their home Games and prevent China from getting that lucky eighth gold.”While that one dive alone is worthy of accolades, here are five of Mitcham’s biggest professional and personal moments that have kept us fans over the years.After taking a break from his sport in 2006, Mitcham returned to competitive diving in 2008 and defied expectations.
At the Australian Nationals that year, he won the 1 m, 3 m and 10 m individual events, and the promise of becoming a world champion became very real.