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Queerty: Olympic diver Anton Down-Jenkins is back training in the pool, & we love watching his progress

Olympic diver Anton Down-JenkinsInstagram

It’s been a banner few months for diving heartthrob Anton Down-Jenkins. Fresh off graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, the Olympian is now preparing for the World Championships in mid-July.

From our vantage point, it looks like he’s more than ready…to make us wet!

Over the last couple of days, Down-Jenkins has been posting videos of his routine. He’s flipping, springing and looking fabulous!

Down-Jenkins, 23, was New Zealand’s first Olympic diver in 37 years when he represented the Commonwealth Nation at the 2020 Tokyo Games. In an interview at the time, he said he was fortunate to grow up watching multiple out gay divers, including Tom Daley and Matthew Mitcham (Mitcham became the first out gay athlete to win Olympic gold in 2008).

“I grew up having that LGBTQI+ representation in sport. There’s Tom Daley who is a multi-Olympic medalist, you have Matthew Mitcham who won gold in Beijing,” said Down-Jenkins. “They definitely helped pave the way for LGBTQI+ representation in our sport.”

The aquatics star recognizes his privilege. Growing up, he says he was proud to identify as LGBTQ+, which isn’t the case for everybody.

“I never felt the need to ‘come out’. I’ve never felt the need to explicitly tell people ‘I’m gay.’ I’m very fortunate because I know that’s not the reality for a lot of people,” he said.

Now with an international platform of his own, Down-Jenkins hopes to be an example for the next generation of young gay divers, just like Daley and Mitcham were for him.

Down-Jenkins shined during his Olympic debut, becoming the first New Zealand diver to qualify for an Olympic final. He wound up finishing 8th in a field of 29.

The athlete parlayed his Olympic success into a successful collegiate career at UNC. He was named ACC Men’s Diver of the Year for two straight seasons, earning All-American honors on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard.

While those accomplishments are impressive in their own right, Down-Jenkins is also a motivated student. He plans to pursue a Masters in Exercise Science at UNC next fall.

With that in mind, Down-Jenkins knows there’s more to life than athletic excellence. He actually withdrew from the Commonwealth Games last year for his mental health. “This decision is ultimately about me and putting myself and my mental health first so I can continue to succeed in the future,” he said.

That’s a message we could all benefit from hearing. Down-Jenkins shows that representation comes in multiple forms. We can’t wait to root him on at next month’s World Championships, which will be held in Fukuoka, Japan.

May Down-Jenkins’ return to the Land of the Rising Sun be just as fruitful as his Olympic debut.

In the meantime, scroll down for more sensational pics of this sensational diver…

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