Mitcham back on high platform1 November 2013
DIVING: A rejuvenated Matthew Mitcham has produced a perfect backflip, rekindling his "love affair" with 10m platform diving - the event that brought him Olympic glory.
At the end of a disappointing London Olympics plagued by a recurring abdominal tear, Mitcham vowed to take his craft closer to the ground - the 3m springboard - to reduce the impact on his battered body.
The 25-year-old had missed the cut for the 12-man London Games final when he failed to control his last semi-final dive and slipped from 11th to 13th place.
That wasn't nearly good enough for the perfectionist who, in 2008, scored five perfect 10s to land gold at the Beijing Olympics, and Mitcham decided to switch disciplines for the 2016 Games.
Rio is still part of the plan, but 25-year-old Mitcham wants to go there contesting the spectacular 10m platform, where he now knows he belongs.
Having taken it easy this year before withdrawing from July's Barcelona world championships, Mitcham says he'd been flirting with moving back up the ladder over the past couple of months.
But he was non-committal until a breakthrough event three weeks ago at the Asia Pacific Diving Invitational in Wellington.
"I dived amazingly on platform in New Zealand, and that rekindled the love affair on platform for me," said Mitcham, who will contest four events, including the 10m platform, at the NSW Open in Sydney this weekend.
"I've always loved platform and I've always dived better on platform. I just didn't expect to do that well.
"It was a nice surprise after so long. I've realised that I really am a platform diver - I just didn't want to acknowledge it."
Mitcham racked up 500 points in the final there - his benchmark for every competition.
"To achieve that with only four dives on 10m - I used one dive on 7m and one on 5m - that's a massive, massive score.
"Had I have done two more dives on 10m, I would have scored into the, God who knows, but it would have been back up to close to where I was before I started getting injured."
That was in 2010 when Mitcham won the World Cup to set a personal best, and finally achieved the No.1 world ranking which evaded him even after winning the Beijing gold.
Mitcham says he has the same list of goals he had before stress fractures invaded his lower back, and coach Chava Sobrino is nurturing him towards his goal of gold medals at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Rio Olympics.
There's just a little less pressure this time - from both the world and himself.
"Because no one expects me to be where I am at the moment, which does alleviate a little bit of that expectation," said Mitcham.
"I'm in a much better place than I was back then. If I had to retire tomorrow, I would be OK with that."