London 2012: Diver Tom Daley 'stronger' after family heartache

TOM DALEY ON THE BBC

  • Monday 23 July at 22:35 BST on BBC One: Tom Daley - Diving for Britain

British diver Tom Daley says he wants to win an Olympic medal for his family after a turbulent year.

The teenager lost his father, Rob, to cancer in May 2011 and was also criticised for spending too much time on media commitments.

Daley on his Dad

Rob and Tom Daley

"My dad was always Olympic crazy. He was just so proud to say that his son was an Olympian. It's great to know he's always been so supportive and I definitely think he's still looking after me."

"It's about time we got some good news in our family," he told BBC Sport.

"It's definitely been a tough year, but it's helped me gain a lot of motivation and inspiration and made me stronger."

Daley's father was believed to be in remission following the removal of a brain tumour in 2006. However, a scan in 2010 revealed it had returned. He eventually lost his fight for life in May last year.

"We kind of knew that it was inevitable, it was just a question of when," said Daley, 18.

"It brought me closer to my dad. I think if he didn't have that brain tumour, we wouldn't have been so close. It's great that we've had that really strong connection."

Daley, who made his Olympic debut in Beijing four years ago, continued to compete while his dad was ill.

He won European gold in the 10m platform event in 2008 and became world champion in 2009. He then won double gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

But just eight weeks after his father's death, he finished fifth at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.

"I wasn't prepared properly because I had just lost my dad and it was about going in there and giving it my best shot," said Daley. "I know he would have wanted me to have carried on."

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In February of this year, GB diving performance director Alexei Evangulov criticised Daley for spending too much time on media work.

Daley insists he has never lost focus and pays little to what is written or said in the media.

"To be honest, I don't watch anything, I don't look at the papers," he said.

"I look at some of the pictures and watch some of my dives back but apart from that I focus on training and competitions. I can't focus on what others are writing or saying, so I have to focus on myself."

Daley claimed overall victory in the World Series in April and followed that up with European Championship gold and new British record score in Eindhoven in May.

He then secured qualification for London 2012 with victory at the GB Olympic trials in Sheffield.

His first event in London, the 10m synchro, will take place on Monday, 30 July. He will then return for the 10m individual preliminaries on 10 August.

"London 2012 is the biggest thing in my life," said Daley. "It's going to be an amazing experience and I'm going to really try and go in there and do the best six dives that I could ever do. For me, it means everything."

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