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Maggie Hendricks

Openly gay diver wins gold

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Diver Matthew Mitcham, the only openly gay male athlete in the Beijing Olympics, won gold in the 10m platform. He beat Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin by 4.8 points, preventing China from sweeping gold in diving events. Mitcham is the first Aussie to win diving gold since 1924, but that's not the only thing that makes him a trailblazer.

He is hardly the first gay athlete to compete but he is one of the first to be out while competing. American diver Greg Louganis did not share his orientation until his diving career was over. To Mitcham, he is just living his life as a gay man and as a diver, and there is nothing extraordinary about that:

“Being gay and diving are completely separate parts of my life. Of course there’s going to be crossover because some people have issues, but everyone I dive with has been so supportive."

Though he wants to be known as more than a gay man, the LGBT community is proud of their star. At OutSports, a sports Web site that focuses on the gay community, his win is front-page news. The Web site brings up a good question -- will NBC mention Mitcham's orientation during tonight's broadcast?

To Mitcham, that doesn't seem to matter. He has gold, and has reached his goals: "I’m happy with myself and where I am. I’m very happy with who I am and what I’ve done.”

UPDATE: NBC did not mention Mitcham's orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes' significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards' fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh's wedding ring debacle.

Photo via Getty Images

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