Where do you start with the accolades for Matthew Mitcham? Greatest diving Olympian in history? One of the greatest gay role models in modern times? Well he’s got a new one: winner of the top prize at the Sports Performer Awards in Australia.
Despite his win in Beijing however, he still doesn’t have a corporate sponsor. No, I don’t understand it either. Is it homophobia or something else? His awards win brings $50,000 with it, but nothing ongoing:
Despite being the first Australian male to win a diving gold medal for 84 years, Mitcham has since discovered that producing that record-breaking dive “hasn’t been a financial goldmine”.
“It’s not a sport that flush with huge dollars,” said David Lyall, from Mitcham’s management group, Grand Slam International. “A lot of the general public seem to think you win a gold medal and people are knocking down the door to sponsor you.”
One possible explanation, unfortunately, for the lack of interest is that Mitcham is openly gay, although Lyall said the diver’s sexuality had “never come up in discussions” with prospective sponsors.
Should that be true then companies such as Aussiebums are making a terrible mistake. Everyone I know is aware of Matt, looks up to him, and as such should be immediate targets for lifestyle marketing through sponsorship of him. The example he has shown is unlike any I’ve seen – coming back from physical and emotional burnout to triumph at the Beijing Olympics, coming from behind with his very last jump, to produce the highest scoring dive in Olympic history aged only 20. But it was the way he followed that triumph up – with good humour and humility, and being openly affectionate with his boyfriend, which cemented his position in people’s hearts. I would encourage any potential sponsors to take Matt on – the good he can do for future generations as an out-gay gold medal Olympian is almost unlimited.