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


Tom Daley “by no means thought he’d really feel emotion” the way in which he did when, finally, he gained 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 gained main titles, shared his grief when he misplaced his father to most cancers, and his pleasure when he married and later turned a father.

For a lot of, it was the second of the Tokyo Video games when the 27-year-old lastly turned 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 passion – knitting.

Daley on… successful Olympic gold

“Successful 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 complete dream come true.

“I by no means thought I would really feel emotion the way in which 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 converse.

“Though it was me and Matty up on the rostrum, there are lots of people behind that medal, and simply every part got here to that second of pure elation at having carried out 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 gained the Olympic medal. However then it actually sinks in once you’ve received the medal spherical your neck and also you see the flag being raised.

“You already know once you see the film of all of the issues, a flashback in your head of all of the issues that had been actually laborious and difficult and troublesome after which all the great instances, the unhealthy instances, the folks that helped you get there… all of it type of simply got here flooding again.

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

Tom Daley in tears on the podium

Daley on… successful 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 Could 2017.

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

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

“A lot of individuals would come out after they’d retired, so I simply hope that successful an Olympic gold medal, successful any Olympic medal, going to the Olympics as a homosexual individual, a member of the LGBT neighborhood, 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 completely different, or really feel like they’re by no means going to realize something simply due to who they’re… they know that with laborious work, you may obtain something.

“Irrespective of who you’re, the place you come from, you may you will be the perfect on this planet.

“There have been extra [out] LGBT athletes on this previous Olympics than in all the Olympics mixed beforehand. So even simply realizing that, individuals 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 received to see me win any of my Olympic medals. He received to see me compete in Beijing, however he wasn’t round for London 2012, Rio or Tokyo. I believe he can be extraordinarily proud to suppose that I’ve not solely received 4 Olympic medals, however one in all them is a gold.

“Typically a lot of individuals get fairly unhappy when they give thought to the dad and mom they’ve misplaced, however for me, it simply makes me so comfortable and proud to have carried out what we had at all times dreamed of doing.

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

“It simply makes me extraordinarily proud to suppose that each one the laborious work and sacrifice that he put into my diving profession is, I would say, value 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 mum or dad and being barely older, I realise he simply did not care what different individuals thought – if he needed to go and see his son and provides him a hug after successful the World Championship, he was going to try this. And he did not care what anybody else thought of it.

“I believe these type of classes that he has taught me about being a mum or dad. 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 believe 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 having 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 a very powerful factor in my life and when you’ve that type of perspective, once you go to coaching, you may get pleasure from it for what it’s. You already know you are going to go residence and being a mum or dad is primary. It shifted the way in which I thought of it.

“And going into these Olympic Video games I knew even when I did very well or actually terribly, I knew I used to be going to go residence and be cherished regardless. And when you’ve that sort 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 ‘properly that is actually bizarre’ and that had been for a few yr.

“I used to be really doing a meditation and once I stood up, my knee type of clicked – that felt completely different. I attempted to hold on coaching. I awakened the following 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 received caught within the joint so my knee was locked.

“So once I noticed my physician, he stated: ‘Possibly you may 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, and so they stated: ‘Sorry, we will must function.’ And so they stated 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 unusually 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 every part was taking place for a motive. If something, I see it as a blessing that I used to be in a position to really feel rested and I hadn’t simply been coaching, coaching, coaching.

“Typically you may arrive on the Olympic Video games and you may really feel exhausted, whereas I do know if I can arrive on the board feeling good and having the power to dive properly, I will dive properly.”

Daley on… knitting

“My knitting has turn out to be lots 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 worthwhile to relaxation.’ But when there’s a cabinet that wants checking out, I’ll type out the cabinet.

“It was really Lance who stated that on set, individuals will knit squares simply to cross the time and I used to be like: OK, I will strive 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 way in which, on the bus to the pool, on the bus residence from the pool, within the stands, every time I had a spare second.

“Whereas the opposite boys in our condominium had been taking part in video video games, I’d simply sit and knit. I would get up and if I had time to take a seat and knit, I’d 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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