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Teenaged champion readies for dive to glory

other Updated: Oct 08, 2010 01:34 IST
Moonmoon Ghosh
Moonmoon Ghosh
Hindustan Times
aquatics

Diving maybe notorious on the football field but in the swimming pool, reigning world champion Tom Daley turns it into an art form. Daley’s list of achievements runs long --- he’s also the FINA world champion in the 10 metre platform event. And he’s only 16.

When he represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he not only became Britain’s youngest competitor, he was also the youngest participant in any discipline.

In the bright red-and-white training kit of the England team, Daley looks fresh and rejuvenated. The English divers arrived here on Wednesday night and have put in a visit to the SPM Aquatics Complex since.

“I think the venue is fantastic. We went to the pool last night and the surface looks great. It’s nice and level,” said the teenager. During the swimming test event in July, there were reports that the platforms were unsuitable for diving, but Daley disagrees. “They are all right now. The platforms are actually similar to the ones we have back at home.”

While the Games were being hit by a spate of pullouts by big-name athletes, Daley was confident of participating in Delhi. “I always knew I would come,” he says. “Security, for me, was not a big issue because I knew we would be in good hands. The organisers and Team England would ensure that everything was up to the mark.”

Only an injury could have held him back, a torn tricep he has been nursing since the European Championships in Hungary, where he was unable to defend his title. “This is the first injury I’ve had to deal with. So I’m not rushing it too much,” he says. “I’m nearly there, though there are a few lumps and bumps in my arm,” he grins, indicating the sore area.

Though Daley agrees he hasn’t had the best preparation for the Games, he is quietly confident. “I wasn’t allowed to dive after my injury. I only got about three-and-a-half weeks of practice,” he says.

But the wonder kid is happy to be in Delhi, hoping to click lots of photographs and take back dozens of memories. Photography is one of the subjects he’s pursuing his A levels in, apart from Spanish and math.

“My A-level project is based on the ‘Urban’ theme. So I’m hoping to capture a bit of that mood here. I won’t be going out too much due to our schedules, and then I fly back home immediately. So it’s annoying that I won’t be able to see much of this place.”

For Daley, Australia and Canada will be the two main opponents on the platform. “Any medal for me would be great. I just hope that the competition is good,” he says, grinning boyishly.