Sydney University’s Australian Olympic gold medallist and Elite Athlete Program member Matthew Mitcham competed in all four men’s diving events at the recent 2010 Commonwealth Games, held in Delhi, where he secured a remarkable four silver medals.

With the London Olympic Games two years away, Mitcham has a tough decision to make. Does he compete in all four events again, or does he streamline his program to two, giving himself the best chance of claiming another Olympic gold?

How challenging it was for Mitcham to compete in four events at a major competition is evident when you hear him explain that his feat was unmatched by any other diver in Delhi.

“There were a lot of events held in just four days, so I was competing two events every single day for four days – which is unheard of,” Mitcham said.

“You can’t really get your best results, but it was just an experience to learn from.”

Despite his decision to compete in four events at the Commonwealth Games possibly costing him at least one gold medal, Mitcham wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“I approach the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games very differently”, Mitcham says. “I see the Commonwealth Games more as a competition where I’m representing Australia rather than myself, so I wanted to win as many medals for Australia as possible.

“Having qualified for all those events, I decided to compete in all of those events to try to win as many medals as possible.”

In that case his mission was well and truly accomplished.

Despite Mitcham’s positive attitude, something has to give for the 2008 Australian Sports Performer of the Year, and it looks as though the springboard could be bounced from his Olympic schedule in 2012.

“I’ve decided that I might give the springboard events a miss leading in to London and just focus on the platform events,” he says. “All the best divers, who are the best in their events, are all specialists.

“They get to train all of their training sessions just focusing on that one event. Whereas, by me diving both events, I only get to train half as much on springboard as the best divers in the world do, and half the time on platform as the best divers in the world do – which puts me at a disadvantage.

“So I think I’ve got to a point where if I want to maintain my position- I’m ranked No.1 in the world on platform at the moment – I’m going to have to drop the springboard events so that I can solely focus on the platform over the next two years.“

Should Mitcham concentrate on platform events in London he will no doubt be training hard in preparation for another chapter in an exciting rivalry with young English diver Tom Daley.

Daley, who captured Commonwealth Games gold in the 10m platform, was just 14 years of age when they first met in competition before the 2008 Olympic Games.

“Earlier in 2008 I saw him and everyone was in awe of him because he was such a phenomenal talent for such a young age,” Mitcham says.

No one could have foreseen the ding-dong battles these two talented divers would have. In major competitions the scoreline so far reads Mitcham two, Daley two.

“I won the Olympics in 2008 and the World Cup this year and he won the World Championships last year and the Commonwealth Games this year,“ Mitcham says. 

Since Mitcham’s amazing triumph at the 2008 Olympics in the 10m platform, when he produced “that dive” (the highest scoring dive in the history of the Olympics – 112.10) on his sixth and final effort, Australia’s diving golden boy has been be the target of the world’s best divers, all eager to knock-off the Olympic champion.

Now with Daley claiming gold in Mitcham’s favoured event at the Commonwealth Games, as well as the 10m synchros (two-man team event), Mitcham can’t wait to see how Daley will cope being the champion –  being hunted – and how he’ll deal with the pressure of performing in front of his home fans in 2012.

“He’s going to have the pressure of expectation on him for London being a home Games,” Mitcham says. “I might have some pressure of expectation as well being a reigning Olympic Champion, but I certainly feel sorry for him.

“He’s going to have a lot more pressure than I do, and I sort of like being in that position- being the underdog.”

Mitcham finishes by showcasing his competitiveness and his burning ambition to remain the number one 10m platform diver in the world.

“It is a healthy rivalry (with Daley), and having not won Commonwealth Games this year has been a lot of motivation for me,” Mitcham says. “So I’m going to train that much harder, as well as specialising (his events and training), to hopefully kick his arse.”

*Mitcham is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and Science at Sydney University.