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Digital Subscriptions > DNA Magazine > DNA #220 | Sports And Fitness > ROLLING IN THE DEEP

ROLLING IN THE DEEP

It’s ten years since Matthew Mitcham wrote himself into a couple of history books. As a diver for Australia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he was awarded the highest ever score for a single dive and won the gold medal. In doing so came another milestone; he became the first openly gay athlete to win Olympic gold. In this interview, he discusses mental illness and addiction, the state of play for out gay athletes, and the triumph of pride over shame.

Ten years on, Matthew Mitcham can still recall the moments leading up to his history-making dive from the 10-metre platform above the pool at the Beijing Olympics.

“I was standing in the stairwell… Zhou Luxin had just done his dive and I heard the whole crowd go, ‘Ooooh.’” China’s Zhou Luxin was Matt’s main rival for a medal.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God. If my name comes up on the board, I’ll win the Olympic silver.’ Just the night before, I’d been thinking, realistically, the bronze would be great – the best I could hope for.”

Recognising that his own rushing thoughts and the crowd’s reaction were not conducive to performing well, he blocked his ears. “I didn’t want to hear the scores. I didn’t want that to affect my dive,” he says.

“Then it was my turn. I got to the end of the platform, turned around and thought, ‘You know what – just enjoy yourself. Have fun. Relax.’ There was nothing I could do in that moment that was going to make me dive better. I’d done all the work in the lead-up training. I had to have faith that that work had been enough and that I would do the best I could in that moment.”

It was a moment informed by the challenges he’d faced as a child and as a teenager, and forged by the last 15 months of training with a new coach after returning to diving from early retirement.

“I went into what athletes called ‘flow state’,” he recalls. “The rows and rows of people on either side just faded into nothing and all I could hear was the water sprays on the surface of the pool below. Time slowed down and it was just me in that moment.”

What followed was a backward two-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists in the pike position.

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Slip into your hottest jockstrap and spray on some extra deodorant – it’s the Sports Issue! Meet the Players… Adam Rippon, America’s ice-skating darling; Gus Kenworthy the hunky out skier loves kissing his boyfriend – and Adam Rippon! We’ve got UK rugby’s Stuart Reardon who’s not only a total tattooed hunk, but now and author and accomplished photographer and we have some very sexy selfies from Stu to prove it! And Olympic Golden Boy, Matthew Mitcham on being the first openly gay athlete to win Olympic gold and the highs and lows of his ten years since then! We also have a sexy story from Jack Ladd recounting a very memorable encounter with a high-profile rugby fantasy! Rocking the Pump! jockstrap on the cover is American model Andrew Corvin – and there’s a lot more to see of him inside. In the serious features department we have an excellent news story on Indonesia’s slide into repressive religious laws that are going to make gay sex illegal. And we have a fascinating insight into the K-pop industry: for a country that does acknowledge homosexuality, they certainly use a lot of boy-on-boy imagery to sell music! In travel, we reveal Costa Rica as the new gay honeymoon hotspot. In pop culture we catch up with Tracey Thorn, Datarock and Melodywhore. In theatre, it’s all about the Broadway revival of The Boys In The Band, Trevor Ashley’s Bodybag, and the Catherine McGregor story, Still Point Turning. Our Straight Mate is James Hoare from TV’s Picnic At Hanging Rock (find out his gay crush). Elsewhere, Dear Diva talks straight, we review music and books and bring you two sensational pin-up hotties!