On Thursday, 1 September a group of nine keen Tennis Sydneyers attended a celebratory and charity dinner to recognise diver Matthew Mitcham and speed skater Blake Skjellerup becoming the latest Gay Games ambassadors. The dinner was supported by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, Proteus Leadership Centres and Team Sydney.
Blake represented New Zealand at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in speed skating. When not training he spends time travelling the country, speaking to high schools about his experiences and he talked about the difference this has made to some of their lives. He came across as a genuine, down to earth yet inspirational athlete.
Despite flying in from London that morning, Matthew made an uplifting speech about the tough early years as a closeted athlete, his despair and decision to give up diving and his moving to Sydney which coincided with his resolution to be true to who he was. This ultimately led him back to the training pool and to go on to become Australia’s first Olympic Gold Medallist in diving since 1924.
Matthew and Blake are two of the few Olympic level openly gay athletes in the world and we are proud and grateful that they are our flag bearers.
A great time was had by all attending. Congratulations to Larry who won a major prize of attending a Leadership conference (including free
lunch) and Lee who’s prize was presented by the beautiful Blake (I was too busy being jealous of the kiss on the cheek she received to remember what she won).
We look forward to Matthew fulfilling his promise to come down and have a hit one Sunday for Social Tennis.