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Ian Matos, Olympic diver inspired to come out by Tom Daley, dies aged 32

The Brazilian athlete, who competed at Rio 2016, was hospitalised with a lung infection two months ago.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Instagram/@ianmatos

The Brazilian Olympic diver, Ian Matos, who credited British diver Tom Daley with giving him the confidence to come out, has died aged 32. 

Matos was suffering from a lung infection and had spent the last two months in hospital before passing on Tuesday 21 December.

He came out publicly as gay in 2014, saying he had been inspired to do so after seeing the 2013 coming out video of British diver Tom Daley.

“A successful career”

Matos, who specialised in the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard, won three bronze medals at the 2010 South American Games and also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, coming in eighth place with his diving partner Luiz Outerelo.

In a note of regret, the Brazilian Olympic Committee expressed its condolences with Matos’ family and friends saying: “It is with deep sadness that the Olympic Committee of Brazil (COB) receives the news of the early death, at the age of 32, of Olympic diving athlete Ian Matos, victim of a lung infection.”

It continues: “Ian had a successful career and was part of the Brazilian team at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara 2011, Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019, in addition to the World Water Sports Championships, World Cups, South American Championships and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”

In 2019 he posted an image to his Instagram account of himself with Tom Daley and his diving partner Matty Lee and another diver called Davi Lyrio at the Parque Aquático Maria Lenk in Rio.

When he came out Matos told the Correia newspaper that the pressure of hiding boyfriends had taken its toll, and also that a friend had advised him not to come out. 

Born in Muaná in the Brazilian state of Pará, Ian took part in the 2003 Pan-American Junior Championship and the 2004 Junior World Championship, before achieving success at the South American games and competing in the Olympics.