Matthew Mitcham, Olympic Gold Medallist and author of Twists and Turns, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |November 23, 2012

 The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Matthew Mitcham

Olympic Gold Medallist
and author of Twists and Turns

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

All in Brisbane. QEII (coopers plains), raised in Camp Hill (I had no chance to be straight!) educated at Mansfield SHS.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

12: rich, 18: famous. 30: rich and famous.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I thought that you only go through depression once in your life. I didn’t realise you actually have to work on mental health.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Reading Agassi’s biography OPEN, Greg Louganis’s biography BREAKING THE SURFACE and reading about Fergie’s struggles all helped mould what I did with the last five years of my life.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

There is something really satisfying about holding a book and turning the pages. But we’ve covered all our bases by releasing it in electronic format as well!

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s the story of my life from birth to present, with absolutely no omissions whatsoever (after all, 24 is really young to write a book!) but it is a very warts-and-all biography, talking about everything from sports to depression, living like a caveman, coming to terms with sexuality, and all the (mis)adventures in between.

(BBGuru: here is the publisher’s blurb – People kept remarking on how they were surprised that a gold medal and fame hadn’t changed me. I always responded, ‘Why would I change? Being me is the easiest person to be.

I was lying. It wasn’t.

At the Beijing Olympic Games, he made history with an unforgettable dive, the first to ever score perfect tens from all four judges, and won gold for Australia.

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.

Joyously out and proud, 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.

In the lead-up to the London Olympics, when injury threatened his hopes, he will have to find the strength again to balance his striving for perfectionism with the fear of his self-doubt taking hold again.

Told with the honesty and courage he is admired for, Twists and Turns is an inspiring story of a true champion, in and out of the pool. )

Click here to buy Twists and Turns from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To de-stigmatise mental illness so that people feel more comfortable reaching out and seeking the help they need.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Too. Many. People. I like to see the best in people and strive to emulate those qualities that I admire in others. But mostly Stephen Fry.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To be rich and famous by 30. Is that too much to ask?

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Let your personality translate through your writing. Write the book that you’d want to read.

Matthew, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Twists and Turns from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • Ella

    November 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Aww I love Matthew. A beautiful man with an inspiring story.

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