On 23 August 2008, a young Australian athlete made Olympic history. Coming from 30 points behind, and on his final dive, he scored 112.10 to shock himself and the diving world and rob the Chinese of a full sweep of Olympic diving gold medals.
On that day Matthew Mitcham OAM became Australia’s first male diving Olympic gold medallist since 1924, and the only diver ever in Olympic history, to produce a perfect 10 point score from all judges – winning the 2008 Beijing Olympics 10m platform title.
Grinning with pride from front pages around the world, there was no hint of the personal demons that had led this supremely talented young dynamo to quit diving less than two years before his famous win at Beijing.
Joyously out and proud as an openly gay man, Matthew was a role model for his courage both in and out of the pool. Yet the crippling self-doubt and shadow of depression that had plagued him all his life forced him into premature retirement, at one point reduced to circus diving to earn money.
Even after Beijing and being ranked No 1 in the world, those closest to Matthew could not guess that beneath that cheeky, fun-loving, exterior he was painfully aware of how easily it could unravel.
Published in late 2012, Matthew released his autobiography Twists and Turns, which revealed a life behind the international spotlight that has been plagued by low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, panic attacks and repeated self-harm as a teenager, leading on to drug abuse. He has also struggled with issues relating to his sexuality, being one of few Olympians to compete at the event as openly gay.
Based on his book of the same name, and told with the honesty and courage he is admired for, this live production of Twists and Turns is an inspiring story of a true champion – in and out of the pool.
Away from the diving pool Matthew is a talented singer and musician, who invites you to share the highs and lows of his incredible life through theatre and song, along with a few surprises, a bit of foot tapping and loads of inspiration, in the premiere season of his first solo show.
Commissioned and Produced by the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Directed by the contemporary young Director, Nigel Turner-Carroll, this extraordinary cabaret show has been scripted by multi-award winning UK cabaret performer Spanky under the musical direction of Jeremy Brennan (Jersey Boys). The ukulele playing Olympic champion brings his inspiring book to life with story and song.
Twists and Turns
De Parel Spiegeltent, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge, WA
Season continues to 8 February 2014
Information and bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au
Slide, 41 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, NSW
Performances: 19 & 20 February 2014
Information and bookings: www.slide.com.au
Matthew will also be performing Twist and Turns as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in June and other dates nationally.
Image: Matthew Mitcham