Australian Olympic gold medal diver Matthew Mitcham has defended Olympic gold medal swimmer Stephanie Rice from accusations of homophobia.

The 22-year-old, openly gay Mitcham told The Australian that Rice was not homophobic for tweeting “Suck on that faggots” after the Australian rugby union team pulled a come-from-behind victory.

Rice later apologized, saying she “did not mean to cause offense,” and made her comment “in the excitement of the moment.”

“I did not mean to cause offense, and I apologize,” Rice said in a statement. “I have deleted it from the site.”

“I know she's not homophobic because we are good friends,” Mitcham said. “It was just an extremely poor choice of words.”

“Some people when they use that language don't realize they are causing offense,” he added. “But it is an issue for a lot of gay people, who get quite upset about it because they have spent so long trying to change people's mentality about these things.”

At least one Australian gay sports figure disagreed. Former rugby league star Ian Roberts called Rice an “idiot.”