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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Take the 10,500 best athletes in the world: who'd have thought all but six would be straight?

One of Waldo's most-read stories of the last year has been coverage of Matthew Mitcham, the only openly gay athlete of the 10,500 who took part in the Beijing Olympics. He won the first Australian gold medal in diving in eighty years, and in the process became a national hero- at 20 years of age.

NBC, the American network with exclusive rights to the Games, who brought you coverage of Michael Phelps' mother, sisters, dog, and the supporters and friends of every other gold medallist, has decided- after the fact- ignoring Mitcham's story was an error.

What was his story? Nothing, except that when interviewed after winning his medal, NBC edited out his partner standing next to him.

We continue to be awestruck by a man of 20 who can deal with sudden, international, celebrity and being out in the notoriously homophobic world of aquatics, and who has the luxuries of supportive parents and a partner who loves him, literately, calmly, and with an eye to his future as an athlete and role model in a world that still pretty much condemns gays to nonathletic stereotypes.

If you saw Mitcham at all, it was probably in NBC's wordless coverage, in which only their idiot commentators were heard. Here's a compilation of what an amazing young man sounds like:

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