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February 11, 2009


Matthew Mitcham never expected to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. In fact, his biggest dream was that he might be able to go home with a bronze. “That was the ultimate,” he says, “the very pinnacle of what I thought I could achieve in Beijing.”

In a far reaching, in-depth article slated for publication in the March issue and posted at Advocate.com, Mitcham recalled what was going through his mind when he shattered Olympic world records with his final, heart-stopping dive.

“I remember the things that I was thinking on the platform before the dive, and I remember what happened as soon as I hit the water. The dive itself is a bit vague. It felt good, although I wasn’t exactly sure. I did wait underneath the water a bit, thinking, I wonder…I wonder…I wonder… Then I popped my head out and the crowd was going wild. I looked over at Chava and he looked excited. It was the most far-out experience. It just completely took me over and I just lost it.”

For those of us who were lucky enough to be watching, his very real and very open and unguarded reaction is what made his mind-boggling accomplishment so totally human and so overwhelmingly emotional.

Here was a guy who had just stunned the World but came off as just one of us. He was like the kid in a candy store who was just told that he could have anything he wanted. And through all of that, you never got the feeling that he thought he was better than or above anyone else. You couldn't help but love this guy.

That's why it was so disheartening when month after month passed without any kind of sponsorship offer. Clearly, his unintentional, matter-of-fact coming out as a gay man before the olympics was costing him.

Well, I'm happy to report that Matthew finally signed his first major sponsorship deal.

According to today's Advocate.com, he has been appointed an ambassador for Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications company that is the number one provider of phone and broadband service in the nation. His contract runs until December 31, 2009.

Amanda Johnston-Pell, executive director of brands and marketing communications for the company, says in a press release, "Matthew's performance at the Olympics last year was sensational, and he demonstrated all the characteristics that we look for in our ambassadors -- confidence, passion, and excellence in his sport. Matthew is a positive role model for all Australians, and we look forward to working with him as his diving career progresses."

It's about time! I only hope that other deals are in the works. Mitcham certainly deserves them.