Matthew Mitcham broke the record books and stole our hearts with his incredible upset gold medal win during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
On Saturday, the out Australian diver was awarded his rightful place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Mitcham, who also became the first ever out gay Olympic champion, was inducted Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“In China, eight is a lucky number, and I know China was hoping to win all eight diving gold medals in Beijing 2008,” said Mitcham. “Having won the first seven of them, I remember hearing that the Chinese team were already celebrating winning the eighth medal before we had even dived the final. It still feels like an extra incredible feat that I was the only person to beat the best divers in the world at their home Games and prevent China from getting that lucky eighth gold.”
Most of all, Mitcham said he’s proud to be the first ever out gay Olympic medalist. “That’s forever,” he said.
Mitcham’s Beijing moment will forever be part of LGBTQ sports history. He publicly came out as gay in May 2008 and competed in the Olympics with his boyfriend in the stands.
The emotional support paid off: Mitcham’s gold-winning dive received the highest score ever. The record stood until it was broken in 2021 at the Tokyo Games.
The Australian reporter who wrote Mitcham’s coming out story described the moment Mitcham enjoyed with his then-boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher, after the winning dive.
“He kissed him briefly in the stands and gave him his Olympic bouquet. Later, outside the glowing blue Water Cube, Matthew Mitcham and his partner, Lachlan Fletcher, firmly embraced, both shedding tears,” wrote Jessica Halloran.
Mitcham, who married his partner, Luke Rutherford, in 2020, continued with his diving success post-Beijing. He was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2010 and won Commonwealth Games gold in 2014 before retiring in 2016.
These days, Mitcham remains a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ community in Australia. Now, he can add “Hall of Famer” to his distinguished resume.