Olympic gold medallist trained himself not to be gay
Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham tried to ‘train himself out of being gay’
Retired diver and Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham has described how he tried to “train himself out of being gay” as a child.
Mitcham, 32, became the first-ever openly gay athlete to win an Olympic gold medal when he set the record score for a single dive in the men’s 10m platform event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
While this moment was his “proudest achievement”, the Australian athlete told BBC Sport that the journey to get there was a difficult one.
He grew up in Brisbane, living with his mother who struggled with mental illness, and attended a Catholic primary school where he began to realise he “liked boys”.
Mitcham, who married his partner last year, said: “I was so scared of it that I would actually tie a rubber band around my wrist and every time I had a gay thought I would snap it, to try and associate pain and suffering with the gay thought. To try and train myself out of being gay.”
Diving helped him escape the pain of staying in the closet, but he soon became frustrated with hiding his true self.
He said: “I felt stuck not being able to be authentically me.
“I didn’t want to admit I’d deceived people and lied for so long, which left me feeling alienated.”
Mitcham struggled with his mental health as a teenager, struggling with self-harm and addiction.
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