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Diving outdoors freaks out Mitcham

Olympic gold medal diver Matthew Mitcham fearlessly jumps from 30 feet high while doing amazing twists, yet it still freaks him out to have to dive outdoors. And next year's world diving championships in Rome are outdoors.

"I have a few fears and diving outdoors is one of them," Mitcham told the Australian. "I usually spot the lights on the roof so I know where I am in my somersaults and when to come out (to enter the water).

"But outdoors the sky and the water look the same unless it's midday (with the sun directly above)."

This fear did not prevent Mitcham from winning a major international title earlier this year held outdoors in Florida, a springboard to his Olympic success. He credits coach Chava Sobrino for helping to talk him through the process of diving outdoors.

However, he remains wary of competing outdoors. "I'm not over it, but I'm not as petrified as I was," he said.
"I know I won't have a panic attack now, but it will take a bit of getting used to, because we hardly ever dive outside."

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Australian gay website Blaze, Mitcham - who won gold in the 10-meter platform at the Olympics - insists he is staying humble despite all the attention he has gotten. Not only did Mitcham stun the favored Chinese to win the gold with the highest recorded score for a dive, he was openly gay and brought his partner, Lachlan Fletcher, to Beijing.

"I'm not really that famous," MM tells blaze, in his first major interview since Beijing, and a subsequent holiday in Europe to wind down. "I'm just not anonymous anymore, that's all."

"I do get recognized a bit ... It's nice and humbling, but it still takes me by surprise. Someone will walk past and do a double take, then come back, shake my hand and say, ‘congratulations'. And for a split second, I'll think, ‘Have they got the right guy? Who have they mistaken me for?'"

While Fletcher has posed for post-Olympics photos, Mitcham's partner has not yet granted any interviews.

"He's still shy," Matt chuckles. "He hasn't done any media, really. He's just taking it in his stride as well, with me doing my training, and having to go away to all these functions and events. He's just helping me along, which I'm extremely grateful for."

Mitcham also said that he became aware that NBC never discussed his sexuality during his dives (which the network later apologized for), but that it was not a big deal to him.

"I was busy with the Olympics at the time, so I was pretty much oblivious to it," he recalls. "I did get sent links about it, so I found out about it, but in all honestly it wasn't really my fight, and I wasn't offended. It was other people that were making complaints and who were really into it."

On Wednesday, Mitcham was named Australia's Sports Performer of the Year. Click here to see him look quite fine in a tux.