Tom Daley: Olympic diving champion on profitable gold, his late father, his son, and his love of knitting


Tom Daley “by no means thought he’d really feel emotion” the best way he did when, eventually, he received Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

Britain’s Daley has been a family identify since he first stepped on an Olympic diving board, aged 14. The general public watched as he received main titles, shared his grief when he misplaced his father to most cancers, and his pleasure when he married and later grew to become a father.

For a lot of, it was the second of the Tokyo Video games when the 27-year-old lastly grew to become an Olympic champion, at his fourth Video games, alongside Matty Lee within the synchronised 10m platform occasion.

In an unique interview with BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent, Daley talks about getting that gold medal, his late father, how his son has modified his perspective, and his favorite pastime – knitting.

Daley on… profitable Olympic gold

“Profitable an Olympic gold medal has been a dream of mine since I used to be just a little child, and to have that medal put spherical my neck by Matty was only a whole dream come true.

“I by no means thought I might really feel emotion the best way that I felt it. I at all times dreamed about singing the nationwide anthem on the prime of my lungs and I actually could not even communicate.

“Though it was me and Matty up on the rostrum, there are lots of people behind that medal, and simply all the pieces got here to that second of pure elation at having completed it after 20 years of coaching.

“I used to be making an attempt to sing the nationwide anthem. I simply could not. I used to be a multitude.

“There have been simply all of the feelings that you simply really feel, from the excessive of lastly discovering out that we had received the Olympic medal. However then it actually sinks in while you’ve bought the medal spherical your neck and also you see the flag being raised.

” while you see the film of all of the issues, a flashback in your head of all of the issues that have been actually exhausting and difficult and troublesome after which all the great instances, the unhealthy instances, the those that helped you get there… all of it type of simply got here flooding again.

“I am not a crier normally however I used to be so overwhelmed with all types of feelings. I really discovered myself throughout the entire Olympics being fairly emotional.”

Tom Daley in tears on the podium

Daley on… profitable Olympic gold as a homosexual man

Daley got here out as homosexual in 2013 and married Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer Dustin Lance Black in Might 2017.

“I really feel extremely fortunate to be from Nice Britain and with the ability to stand on that diving board and never really feel afraid of any ramifications, and even worry for my life. However there are nonetheless these international locations the place being homosexual is punishable by demise.

“I really feel extraordinarily fortunate to have the ability to dive and never have these ramifications, however I additionally really feel like after I was youthful, there weren’t many out athletes that have been nonetheless competing.

“Plenty of folks would come out after that they had retired, so I simply hope that profitable an Olympic gold medal, profitable any Olympic medal, going to the Olympics as a homosexual particular person, a member of the LGBT group, that any younger children on the market that really feel like they’re lower than… who really feel like they’re on the skin and really feel totally different, or really feel like they’re by no means going to attain something simply due to who they’re… they know that with exhausting work, you possibly can obtain something.

“Regardless of who you might be, the place you come from, you possibly can you could be the most effective on the planet.

“There have been extra [out] LGBT athletes on this previous Olympics than in the entire Olympics mixed beforehand. So even simply figuring out that, folks will really feel much less alone.”

Daley on… his dad

Rob Daley died of a mind tumour in 2011 when his son was 17.

“He by no means, ever bought to see me win any of my Olympic medals. He bought to see me compete in Beijing, however he wasn’t round for London 2012, Rio or Tokyo. I feel he can be extraordinarily proud to assume that I’ve not solely bought 4 Olympic medals, however one among them is a gold.

“Usually plenty of folks get fairly unhappy when they consider the dad and mom they’ve misplaced, however for me, it simply makes me so joyful and proud to have completed what we had at all times dreamed of doing.

“I do know he would have completed one thing loopy [after the gold in Tokyo], he would have fallen down off the balcony, he would most likely have jumped within the pool. He would have been the streaker of the Olympics; I simply know he would have completed one thing foolish.

“It simply makes me extraordinarily proud to assume that every one the exhausting work and sacrifice that he put into my diving profession is, I might say, price it.

Rob Daley and Tom Daley

“On the time, travelling round with my dad, I used to seek out it so embarrassing. He used to do such foolish issues, like bursting in on press conferences, doing all this stuff. I assumed it was extraordinarily embarrassing.

“However now being a mother or father and being barely older, I realise he simply did not care what different folks thought – if he needed to go and see his son and provides him a hug after profitable the World Championship, he was going to do this. And he did not care what anybody else considered it.

“I feel these type of classes that he has taught me about being a mother or father. I now perceive. And I’ve an entire new stage of appreciation for my dad and mom.”

Daley on… his son

Daley and Black welcomed son Robbie in 2018.

“I feel Robbie modified my entire perspective and outlook on so many components of my life.

“In 2018, on the Commonwealth Video games, I assumed I used to be down and out in my diving profession. I had stress responses in each of my shins, I had a lateral hip tear, I had disc issues in my again and I simply thought I wasn’t going to have the ability to get again to even with the ability to go to those Video games.

“After which lastly the entire thing shifted when Robbie was born. All of it fell into place.

“Robbie is an important factor in my life and when you’ve gotten that type of perspective, while you go to coaching, you possibly can take pleasure in it for what it’s. you are going to go house and being a mother or father is primary. It shifted the best way I considered it.

“And going into these Olympic Video games I knew even when I did rather well or actually terribly, I knew I used to be going to go house and be liked regardless. And when you’ve gotten that kind of unconditional love, it took a lot stress off me.”

Tom Daley pictured with his son and husband

Daley on… surgical procedure pre-Olympics

“My knee began clicking actually badly and clunking however there was no ache, and I assumed ‘effectively that is actually bizarre’ and that had been for a couple of yr.

“I used to be really doing a meditation and after I stood up, my knee type of clicked – that felt totally different. I attempted to hold on coaching. I awakened the subsequent day and I could not stroll. My knee was locked into place.

“Basically the meniscus, the cartilage in my knee, had torn away, flipped up and bought caught within the joint so my knee was locked.

“So after I noticed my physician, he mentioned: ‘Perhaps you would possibly want an injection to loosen it up. Worst case state of affairs is that you simply want an operation.’

“I went in for an MRI scan, they usually mentioned: ‘Sorry, we’ll have to function.’ And so they mentioned it was a 4 to six-week restoration. This was solely eight weeks earlier than my synchro competitors with Matty.

“I did not have a selection. I needed to get my knee fastened, as a result of if I did not, I wasn’t going to have the ability to dive in any respect.

“I felt surprisingly at peace with it, as a result of I knew what I needed to do to be at my finest at these Olympic Video games, doing no matter visualisation, rehab and dietary supplements to have the ability to get on the diving board and be there and prepared. I used to be ready to do it.

“I felt all the pieces was taking place for a motive. If something, I see it as a blessing that I used to be capable of really feel rested and I hadn’t simply been coaching, coaching, coaching.

“Generally you possibly can arrive on the Olympic Video games and you’ll really feel exhausted, whereas I do know if I can arrive on the board feeling good and having the vitality to dive effectively, I will dive effectively.”

Daley on… knitting

“My knitting has develop into a variety of my mindfulness, I really solely began as a result of I am horrible at sitting nonetheless. My coach is at all times like: ‘It’s essential relaxation.’ But when there’s a cabinet that wants finding out, I’ll type out the cabinet.

“It was really Lance who mentioned that on set, folks will knit squares simply to cross the time and I used to be like: OK, I will attempt that. So I began making an attempt it, and fell in love with it and right here we’re.

“Once I say I am obsessive about knitting, I used to be knitting on the best way, on the bus to the pool, on the bus house from the pool, within the stands, at any time when I had a spare second.

“Whereas the opposite boys in our house have been enjoying video video games, I might simply sit and knit. I might get up and if I had time to sit down and knit, I might simply regularly knit.

“Within the Olympic village, you could find your self over-thinking so many issues. That is like my type of escapism to get away, cross the time and never have to consider diving.”

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