Mitcham to make literary splash with autobiography
From diving into a circus barrel just to make ends meet to winning an Olympic gold medal and becoming one of the country’s best known and loved gay icons, diver Matthew Mitcham will share these tales and much more in his upcoming autobiography Twists and Turns to be launched at the Midnight Shift next week.
To be released by HarperCollins in December, Mitcham’s book will also take a closer look at the anxiety and “crippling self doubt” that he has battled as a teenager and young adult, which at one point forced him to give up diving and head to the local circus so he could earn an income.
“People kept remarking on how they were surprised that a gold medal and fame hadn’t changed me,” Mitcham writes in a blurb for the book.
“I always responded, ‘Why would I change? Being me is the easiest person to be’. I was lying. It wasn’t.”
Now based in Sydney, Mitcham began diving in his adolescence after being discovered by the Australian Institute of Sport Diving Program at age 11 when he was still a highly regarded champion trampoline gymnast. Continuing with both sports for a few years, Mitcham became a national junior diving champion before winning his first senior title in 2005.
A few years later, Mitcham was on top of the dais at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after surprising everyone bar himself with the highest single-dive score in Olympic history to take out the gold medal in the 10m platform event.
Twists and Turns also sees the 24-year-old Brisbane-born sports star discussing his effort at this year’s London Olympics where he failed to defend his crown after missing out on qualifying for the final. With an abdominal injury affecting his preparation for the London Games, Mitcham writes that his self-doubt and depressive tendencies returned with a vengeance.
Graeme Aitken, from the Bookshop Darlinghurst, will help host the launch on Tuesday, November 20. He told SX this week he was “enormously excited” about the event that will see Mitcham talk about the book as well as take some questions from the audience.
“This is undoubtedly the biggest book release of the year for us at The Bookshop Darlinghurst and we have been overwhelmed by the interest.
“Probably the only book I could compare Matthew Mitcham’s book to is the Ian Roberts biography by Paul Freeman – given that they are both high profile Australian gay sportsmen who have come out as gay. The Ian Roberts book was a phenomenal bestseller for us and is one of our top 3 bestsellers in our 30 year history,” Aitken said.
“But I would expect Matthew’s book to actually surpass sales of Ian Roberts’ book, as he has such a massive following on social media, especially on Twitter, but also an enormous international fan base.”
Aitken said having publicly come out as gay just prior to his performance in Beijing, Mitcham had garnered plenty of fans in recent years with his honesty and determination to live an openly gay life while still at the pinnacle of his sport.
“Generally, with biographies and autobiographies there are two types that sell well – those that are really salacious and full of revelations, and those where the subject of the biography is best-loved, held in high regard and with great affection,” Aitken told SX.
“And Matthew’s book definitely falls into that latter category. He is an icon and role model to many GLBT people, and I think many people will welcome the opportunity to hear him talk about his book.”