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Searching for sponsorship, aiming for gold

Thu 1 Jun 2006 In: True Stories View at NDHA

One of New Zealand's hottest contenders for a medal at this year's Out Games in Montreal will compete in the visually spectacular and highly attended diving competition. Gay spectators just love to see lithe bodies in Speedos it seems, and one young Aucklander is seeking sponsorship to ensure he lines up with the world's best gay divers to wow the crowds and represent his country. Simon Latimer, 24, is planning to be New Zealand's only diving representative at the inaugural Out Games, to be held from July 29. He has a long history of competitive diving but is struggling to fund his dream of bringing home a medal. And he's a real contender for gold. Seeking sponsorship for his bid, he is offering the opportunity for your business to be emblazoned on his Speedos to ensure he secures his dream. "I'm pretty open-minded and easy to please," says Latimer, provocatively. "I'll do pretty much whatever a sponsor would like. I'll be an ambassador for a product or theme, wear your label on my Speedos and swimming cap, plus my towels, training bag, and other gear. I'm also looking for a New Zealand flag to carry." He is clearly determined to provide ample return for sponsorship. "I want to get a medal," he declares. "I'm a competitive person, so that's what I'm going for." Latimer first started diving when he was 12 years old. As student at Bayfield High School in Dunedin, the dive coach spotting him doing gymnastic flips and recognised his talent. He joined a dive team and attended his first national championship in 1994. Since then, he's competed in two World Championships, coming mid-field in the Junior Champs in China in 1995 and finishing in the world's top 20 in the under-18 World Champs in the Czech Republic in 1999. Latimer's career suffered a major setback while competing in the Australian Open Dive Championships in Melbourne in 2000, when he sustained a stress fracture in his spine. He pressed on, trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, but the injury got the better of him and he had no choice but to take time off. Latimer concentrated on his university studies, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Geography, and now works as a writer. It was a personal tragedy that propelled Latimer back to the diving board. His friend, Marc-André, who Latimer had first met in Dunedin when the French Canadian was an exchange student there, was diagnosed with a rare cancer last year and died within a matter of months, at just 25 years of age. Marc-André was involved in bringing the Out Games to his hometown of Montreal and convinced Latimer to compete. “I promised him I'd represent New Zealand in the Out Games for him,” says Latimer, so from late last year he recommenced a gruelling training schedule, spurred on by the promise to his friend. Latimer's dedication to his training is impressive. He goes to the gym five times each week where he works on his strength and conditioning. He lifts weights and does cardio to strengthen his back. He travels out to Waitakere to swim two or three times each week, and he does performance diving on Saturdays and Sundays. He also works full-time and still manages to find time for his boyfriend of two years. Latimer is determined to compete in Montreal, and has the full support of his family back in Dunedin. Latimer knows that gay men are well represented among the world's best divers, and he particularly admires gay Olympic dive champion, Greg Luganis. He's looking forward to performing for a receptive gay crowd. "I love performing, that's probably my favourite part. I usually get up and do better in the competition than I do in training." Latimer likes that diving is such a spectacle – "that's fully cool," he says. Diving is an "elegant and beautiful sport." Latimer is under no delusions as to the standard of competition he'll encounter in Montreal. "A lot of gay guys are good at diving," he says, and the Out Games will be "of a very high calibre." The Canadians are particularly good, says Latimer, plus they'll have the home advantage. But Latimer is unfazed by the competition. "I used to get nervous, but these days, it doesn't really worry me that much." His favourite dives are the forward three-and-a-half somersault or the back one-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists. With training underway and his strong desire to win Latimer is looking good for a medal. But he needs financial help to ensure he gets there. Latimer has already covered the $500 fee to enter the diving competition and has part of the money for his airfare. The whole trip will cost about $5000, and any contribution would be spectacular – in exchange for naming rights to his Speedos, of course (amongst other things). If you can see yourself on Latimer's Speedos and you have a message or a product to share with a potential audience including 16,000 competitors and 250,000 spectators from over 120 countries, then act now to reserve your spot. Latimer promises ample exposure as he competes for Gold. No holds barred. "I'll be going hard," he says. "I have the fire burning to compete well." Editor's note: is supporting Simon's search for sponsorship and is donating advertising exposure on our highly popular gay community website to his sponsor(s). 40,000 users visit us every fortnight, most of them accessing us several times a week. Click on Simon's advertisement or use the Contact link below to discuss how you can assist!     David Parrish - 1st June 2006

Credit: David Parrish

First published: Thursday, 1st June 2006 - 12:00pm

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