Diver Matthew Mitcham (32), known for being the first openly gay Olympic athlete to win the gold medal breaking a world record, gave an interview to the BBC Sport channel saying that his sexual orientation led to many moments of suffering and that he “trained” to be straight.
“I was so afraid [de ser gay] that I tied a rubber band around my wrist and every time I had a gay thought I pulled it to associate pain and suffering with gay thoughts. Training myself not to be gay “ – he told BBC Sport – “I felt trapped for not being able to be myself authentically. I didn’t want to admit that I deceived people and lied for so long, feeling alienated.”
“The dive ended up becoming very dark and ended up permeating my whole life. I really hated it, but I knew I had a special chance, so I kept going, effectively on autopilot” – continued the athlete.
Mitcham also says that he had problems with his mother, who was very negligent and suffered from mental health problems. Eventually he entered the world of alcohol and drugs to look for “relief, an escape valve, and a way to shut down the brain for a few hours, but he keeps climbing.”
He stopped swimming at age 18, but ended up returning at age 20 when he had an opportunity to compete in the Beijing Olympics. At that time he cut everything that was not good for health, not only alcohol and drugs, but also fast food and others. That’s when in 2008 he got the medal mentioned earlier, and he came out in an interview before the competition.
“There have been other Olympic medalists since then, and my record will be broken one day, but no one will be able to take away the fact that I was the first openly gay man who was an Olympic champion” – said – “It was one of the most incredible feelings and my achievement that I am most proud of.”