Olympic Stories

Matthew Mitcham - Diving

Matthew Mitcham - Diving

Born on March 2, 1988 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Matthew Mitcham is a diver who is set to compete for his home country in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. In terms of talented divers in the Games this year, Mitcham is near the top of everyone’s list of athletes to watch. The defending 10m platform champion from Beijing’s 2008 Games, Matthew is in perfect position to take home back-to-back gold medals in his respective event.

Not only did Matthew win his event; he actually posted the highest score ever in Olympic history. Shattering years of performance is something that puts Mitcham in the same category as an athlete like Usain Bolt. And while diving and sprinting certainly have different sized followings, Australia and every diving fan in the world eagerly awaits Mitcham’s 2012 performance.

Sporting Career

Matthew Mitcham began his sporting career as a trampoline gymnast and wasn’t really involved in water sports at all. One day, though, he was spotted at an aquatic center just having fun by Wang Tong Xiang, a talented coach, and was compelled to begin diving. This would be a huge change for Mitcham. He had actually competed in trampoline events for Australia in 1999 and 2001, via the World Junior Championships.

Mitcham really excelled at diving. Starting in 2002, he went on a three-year run as the National Junior Champion in the sport. Then in 2004, Matt would win three silver medals at the World Junior Championships, following that up with multiple synchro titles at the Junior Nationals that same year. Unfortunately, Mitcham missed his opportunity to qualify for the 2004 Olympic team.

2006 would be a tough year for Matt. Competing in various competitions, including the German Grand Prix and the Commonwealth Games, a string of disappointing finishes caused Mitcham’s star to fade and his confidence to diminish – so much so that he actually took a break from the sport altogether. He wouldn’t be out long, however; Matt returned in 2007, with a new coach and new venue, and a year later in 2008 he began winning multiple events in Australia and eventually in international competitions.

Matt rode his hot streak into the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Although he failed to qualify for the final while competing on the 3m springboard, he impressed with his performance on the 10m platform. However, once in the real competition, Mitcham’s first few dives were not good enough to give him first place. He entered the final well behind the leader, Zhou Luxin, and needing a huge score of 107.30 to win gold, Mitcham’s dive earned him a 112.10 – the highest dive score in the history of the Olympics.

Mitcham is always under a lot of scrutiny on the world stage. He is one of but a few openly gay athletes on the world stage, and diving isn’t a very respected sport in the first place (outside of the Olympics). Regardless, Matt continues to push on, and the 2012 Olympics are his to lose.

Career Highlights

  • 2008 Olympic Games – Gold
  • 2009 World Championships – Bronze
  • 2010 Commonwealth Games – Silver (4)
  • 2012 Male Diver of the Year

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