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'I'm doing this for dad – it was his dream,' says Olympic diving hopeful Tom Daley

18 JULY 2012

When Tom Daley steps up to the diving board at the London 2012 Olympics, there will be a very special inspiration spurring him on to gold.

The 18-year-old will be thinking of his beloved father Rob, who died in May 2011 after a battle with cancer.


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"There are moments when it feels really tough to be doing this without him and I miss him at times like Father’s Day and his birthday," he says.

"Mum says I mustn't feel extra sad on those days – every day is sad.

"But Dad wanted us to carry on and I'm doing this for him because it was his dream. And it's my dream too."

Rob gave up his job managing an electrical firm to accompany his son to competitions and training sessions.

Now his dad is gone, Tom – who has two younger brothers, Will, 16, and 13-year-old Ben – has become the head of the family.

He feels it's his job to provide for them.

"I have to look after my family because I'm the eldest son," he told the Daily Mail. "I can help them so why shouldn't I?"

Much comment has been passed about Tom's money-making endorsement deals, which include a £300,000 advance he got for his autobiography My Story, and a string of sponsorship deals.




 
 
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But the brown-eyed young sportsman says the time spent away from the pool doing his media work has not affected his form.

While he acknowledges it will be tough to beat his closest rival, Chinese diver Qui Bo, who will have put in more hours training than him, he stresses: "I know that I have been training as hard as I possibly can."

"The Chinese train differently to us. They're taken away from their parents and have no school.

"It's almost like a diving factory, and if one diver injures himself there's another to take his place.

They only get to see their parents once a year.

"I’m doing the most training I can while still being able to see my friends and family. I don't think it puts me at a disadvantage; I get to have different life experiences."


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If reports are to be believed, the Olympic poster boy's 'life experiences' include a new romance with American diver Kassidy Cook.

But the teenager insists he's single at the moment, and will remain that way until the Games are over. "Too many things can go wrong with relationships," he says.

There's seemingly little time for romance, in any case. He trains for five hours a day, five days a week.

But despite the confidence he exudes when he launches himself off the 10-metre high board, Tom has a surprising admission - he still gets scared every time he climbs the ladder.

"'I don't really like heights," he says. "I'm scared of it going wrong and losing myself in the air or hitting the edge."
 

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