Daley medal rewards nerveless display
August 12, 2012 14:10 pm
There has rarely been a more celebrated bronze medal than Tom Daley's on the penultimate night of the Olympic Games.
The 18-year-old won Great Britain's first Olympic individual diving medal for 52 years but it was the emotion, rather than history, of his success that resonated around the Aquatics Centre.
The eyes of the host nation fell on the popular former world champion as he attempted to win the last remaining major honour of his decorated career for his late father.
Daley was at the bedside of his father, Robert, at the family home in Plymouth when he lost his long battle with brain cancer aged 40 last May.
Robert Daley had been a constant at poolside during his son's career and had vowed to battle the disease for long enough to see him dive in London.
"I dedicate this medal for my dad," Daley said.
"After losing my dad and all the tough times - it's about time my family had some good news.
"It's really tough not having him here, but I'm so happy for the fact that all the hard work we put in together, all the ups and downs, I know if he was here he'd be very proud.
"I wish he was here to be honest, but I know he's not. To make up for it all my family and friends are here.
"All the lessons in life he's taught me. It's been tough but I've come out the other side and have something to show for it.
"Although it's a bronze medal for me it's a gold medal."
It felt like a gold medal too as a 17,500-strong home support roared Daley on in one of the most memorable 10-metre platform finals in history.
Daley's performance was near-perfect after he overcame the drama of a re-dive for his opening leap after protesting that he had been distracted by the sea of flash bulbs as he took to the tower for the first time.
Daley had led with a dive to go but only by 0.15 points ahead of deadlocked duo David Boudia and Qiu Bo, who stole away Daley's world title 12 months ago.
Like so often in his career Daley showed ice cool nerve under pressure, attracting a single score of 10 for his final back dive.
The degree of the difficulty paled in comparison to his rivals, however, and when Boudia then nailed his leap the American claimed one of the major upsets of the Olympics in defeating China's Qiu.
While Boudia's victory was stunning the emotion inside the Aquatics Centre centred on Daley who celebrated with his team-mates and coaches by diving into the pool.
Daley's success was vital for the future of British diving also to ensure funding remained post Olympics.
Evangulov had set a medal target of three - which would have been Great Britain's best ever - but it looked like falling flat.
Daley and Peter Waterfield were left ruing one missed dive in the platform synchro that left them fourth while European champions Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow competed in the in the women's platform synchro.
There was also a heart-warming story involving Team GB's Chris Mears.
The 19-year-old was given just a 5% chance of survival after he collapsed and needed his spleen removed during a junior competition in Australia in January 2009.
Three years on and he left his family in tears in the Aquatics Centre stands as he beat the odds again to reach the springboard final, despite being ranked 48 in the world this year.
"I am so proud of him. He's incredible," his mother, Katy Mears, said.
"The last three years he has had to crawl his way back and to get where he is now is amazing."
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