Gay Brazilian Olympic diver Ian Matos died Wednesday due to a lung infection, The Sun reports. He was just 32 years old.
Matos, who competed in the men’s synchronized three meter springboard at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, was in the hospital for almost two months. An infection in his throat spread to his stomach and lungs.
“We are profoundly saddened to have received the news of the premature death of the Olympic diver Ian Matos, aged just 32,” Brazil’s Olympic Committee said in a statement. “Team Brazil acknowledges his contribution to the evolution of the discipline. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Matos came out in 2014, two years before he competed as an Olympian in his home country. He said Tom Daley’s coming out inspired him to do the same.
“From a young age, I knew I was gay, but it was here that I got to live my sexuality,” Matos said at the time, referring to his new home of Rio de Janeiro.
It’s easy to forget how different the climate was for LGBTQ athletes in 2014. While tremendous strides were being made, there were far fewer out competitors, especially on the male side. A then-record 56 out athletes competed in Rio. This year, there were at least 186 out athletes participating in the Tokyo Games.
Matos said one of his friends advised him to stay closeted until after the Rio Games, but he couldn’t stand lying anymore. At 24 years old, he wanted to experience the wonderful trappings of gay life, including parties and dating.
Matos’ coming out didn’t dampen support for him in Brazil. Friends organized a fundraising drive so his mom and siblings could be with him while he was receiving medical treatments in Rio. It nearly doubled its $2,500 target in just a few days.
Matos may be gone, but let his strength live on forever.