Lee aims to come of age on London stage

Matty Lee has already beaten the bullies and now has his eyes set on the rest of the world at this weekend's London homecoming alongside Tom Daley.

The two have been put together for a run at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and have got off to a flying start with one silver and one bronze medal from four World Series events.

Daley, a two-time Olympian, might be the bigger name but Lee has also enjoyed success - with silver in the mixed 10m synchro event at both the most recent World and European Championships alongside Lois Toulson.

He also won gold in the 10m platform at the European Games in 2015 and the mixed platform at the European Championships in 2017.

However, things didn’t always look so bright.

“Growing up and being a diver wasn’t easy," he said.

"I got bullied in the lower end of secondary school for diving, things happen like that and people can be so uneducated, they call you names, the main thing they said is that I’m gay. If I was so what?

“It’s funny because when I got to year 11 and started being successful, people started being excited and raving about it, now they all want to talk to me, it’s funny how things change.”

Lee is only looking forward now though and has moved training bases from the City of Leeds Diving Club to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

He added: “I’ve known Tom for years and he’s always been a really nice guy and he’s helped me a lot in these past couple of months by teaching me stuff and giving me opinions.

“He doesn’t coach me, but he always gives me little coaching comments that I don’t mind. He also says that he learns from me as well still, it’s weird to think that but it’s a compliment really.

“Luckily when we got together it was quite easy to get in sync, we didn’t actually have to work too hard on the synchro part of it.

“He’s a lovely guy and is great for the sport, he’s done so much and without him we probably wouldn’t be funded. We have to thank him for what he’s done.”

Lee is also continuing to dive individually but insists he prefers being part of a team.

“It’s nice not to be on your own, when you’re on your own everyone’s eyes are on you but when there’s two of you, it’s spilt and probably more on Tom to be honest.

“You can always talk during the competition and that relaxes me and even if you do mess a dive up, you’re good enough friends not to care about it.”

The next goal is the Diving World Series which returns to London for the first time since 2015 this weekend.

“I went to the 2015 leg and it was amazing, the crowds were a good size and I felt like a rock star for the weekend. When you leave the pool, everyone is asking for your photo and I don’t get that every day, so it was really nice.

“Spotting is a big thing in diving so when we’re in our somersaults, we need to see where the water is and where the ceiling is because we need to know our reference points for where to come out. Every pool is different, so we have the advantage here because we train here every day.”

“It’s also very beneficial for our team, because hosting gives us wildcard selections for the other events in the series. That’s how I was able to compete in the individual events in the opening two rounds.”

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Lee, with the World Championships in South Korea following in July before the focus switches to Tokyo 2020.

He added: “It’s coming quick and you’ve got to prepare. I remember when Rio happened, and I thought Tokyo was ages away but then it’s gone just like that.

“At the Worlds, me and Tom hope to get a medal, it doesn’t matter what colour, it’s all about qualifying for the Olympics at the first opportunity.”  Sportsbeat 2019