Britain’s Tom Daley competes, wins medal in memory of father

Published On August 12, 2012 | By Stephanie Silva

The past two years have been extremely difficult for British diver Tom Daley. The 18-year-old lost his father to cancer and the media has hounded him since he is one of the top young British sporting talents. But all of that pressure didn’t stop Daley from winning a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Daley dedicated his medal to his father, Robert, who died of a brain tumor in May 2011, and Daley credits his father as his diving inspiration.

“It’s been my dream since a very young age to compete at an Olympics,” Daley told the BBC. “I’m doing it for myself and my dad. It was both our dreams from a very young age. I always wanted to do it and Dad was so supportive of everything. It would make it extra special to do it for him.”

After earning a bronze medal in the 10m platform diving competition Saturday, Daley paid an emotional tribute to his father.

“I think my dad would have probably tried to dive off the balcony to be with us,” Daley told reporters. “It is really difficult not having him here … if he was here he would be very proud. I wish he was here.”

“It is about time my family had good news and now we have something to show for all the hard work. Although it is a bronze medal, to me it is a gold medal.”

Since his father’s passing last year, Daley’s support system is built on mother Debbie and younger brothers William and Ben, who were in attendance at the finals on Saturday and also contributed to all the behind-the-scenes efforts to help Tom make it to the Olympics.

Tom Daley is Britain’s diving prodigy. He began diving at age seven and was immediately recruited to begin competing seriously. He won his very first competition, the National Novice Championships, in 2003. At an invitational event later that year in Southampton, he won in several categories. His career also includes being the under-18 British champion in the 10m and 3m springboard in 2006, as well as being one of the youngest British Olympians ever at 14-years-old when he performed in Beijing. The BBC named Daley Young Sports Personality in 2007, where he held the title for three consecutive years.

Entering the London Games, the young Olympian faced criticism in the form of social media after failing to medal in the 10m synchronized platform diving competition. A Twitter “troll” (someone who uses social media with the intention of causing harm) posted on Daley’s timeline, “You let your dad down i hope you know that.” The posting teenager was later arrested at his home, but not without lots of media coverage; to where the offender began tweeting profanities to specific media outlets for exposing him. The added pressure of the public was surely one of the deep-rooted motivators to his win.

The public isn’t the only one to have words about Daley’s recent performances. At the World Cup meet in February, Russian performance director Alexei Evangulov claimed that the budding teenage athlete was getting distracted by his media commitments and questioned his ambition. The mature diver responded by taking the criticism to heart and focused even harder on his training for the six months that followed.

Not only has Daley exceeded everyone’s expectations in the midst of his father’s death, he did it while attending school full-time and earning top grades as well. His hard work has paid off and as the crowd burst into a chant of “GB! GB!”, it’s obvious that he made both his family and his country proud.

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