UP FOR IT: A gold medallist at the Beijing Olympics, Matthew Mitcham wants to compete at the 2016 Rio Games. Inset right: Matthew spends time with his family on the Coast.
UP FOR IT: A gold medallist at the Beijing Olympics, Matthew Mitcham wants to compete at the 2016 Rio Games. Inset right: Matthew spends time with his family on the Coast. JOHN Mccutheon AAP

Prepared to take the plunge

WITH an "I don't care" attitude and the ability to wear his failures with pride, Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham has made his flaws part of his appeal.

The 10m platform champion - in Mt Coolum on a brief break with his family - has hit just as many highs as he has lows, and he's not afraid to talk about it.

The openly gay athlete, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after receiving the highest single-dive score in the history of the Games, has spoken candidly about his battles with anxiety, depression and addiction to crystal meth.

Why? Because he's learnt that owning your demons can earn you the respect of your fans.

"I had to hit rock bottom to be motivated to make the changes that I needed to make," he said.

"I'm sharing this stuff when I don't have to. It's not like I was caught out, but I thought the potential benefit to others outweighed the detriment to myself. I feel it's important to talk about this stuff more.

"After coming out before Beijing, I had faith in the public that they would continue to show support and respect. That's why I have been so candid.

"It's worked for me - it might not work for others."

While his sporting achievements have put him on a pedestal, Matthew has his own ideas of what a role model should be.

"People expect them to be perfect and it's really unrealistic ... I think a good role model makes mistakes and knows when to learn from it and become a better person," he said.

Although he toyed with the idea of retiring from diving after his Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold win, Matthew said he would be sticking around for Rio.

"I feel like I've done everything I wanted to do in the sport, but I'm always going to give back to diving," he said.

More recently his focus has been on touring his cabaret show, Twists and Turns, which is based on his autobiography of the same name.

Both offer a smack-in-the-face style honesty and insight into life behind the Olympic uniform.

For now, Matthew is enjoying a much-needed break with dad Greg, step mum Yolande and half-brother and sister Ky and Mia. Yesterday he took some time out at the Bli Bli AquaFun Park.

Yolande told the Daily she was happy to have him home.

"It's been great - we don't get to see him much with his schedule," she said.



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