Mitcham fever hit its peak during the Beijing Olympic Games’ 10m platform event. There, Matthew knocked down what was then considered the undefeatable Chinese diving team and in the process earned the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history with a perfectly executed 112.10-point back two and a half somersault with two and a half twists. Up until the last dive of the competition, China’s Zhou Luxin had a 30 point lead, but Matthew smashed it spectacularly, beating his impressive 533.15 score with his own 537.95… all at the age of 20. A few months later he won the 2008 Diving Grand Prix, and was voted Australia Sportsman of the year for 2008 by his peers and fellow countrymen.
Because of the treatment that they get in their own countries, of the 11,028 athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics, only 11 were out and proud gays. The odds are that that left approximately 1,091 just as deserving gay athletes out in their cold closets.
"When you compete, you need to focus on your strength, but when you're in the closet, what you focus on is fear and vulnerability."
"The fear of rejection is the ultimate overriding factor that makes it really difficult to make yourself stand out in any way, and certainly in a way that might not be seen so positively by your teammates."
Amongst other things, Mark is known for doing something not many other athletes can do — breaking his own world records. In fact at the Canadian Winter Nationals in Winnipeg he did it twice in two days… and without a high-tech body suit. By the time Tewksbury retired in 1992 he owned the 100m short-course backstroke and had earned six world records in the event plus one short-course world record in the 200m backstroke. Aside from medaling for Canada in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Mark also achieved good showings in the Pan Pacific Games from 1987 through 1991.
Mark has earned several Canadian Athlete of the Year awards, including the prestigious Lou March Trophy, the Lionel Conacher Award, and the Norton H. Crow Award. He has also been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame, was named Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year, and is in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
In 1996, Mark was an integral part of the International Olympic Committee that selected the site of the 2004 Summer Olympics, but became embroiled in a conflict over the treatment of Olympic Athletes and perceived corruption in the organization. In 1998 Mark disclosed his homosexuality and several months later resigned his position at the IOC, deciding instead to concentrate on his role in bringing the celebrated Gay Games/Out Games to Montreal, an event that he hosted in 2006.