Ever since making his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008, Tom Daley has been under pressure to perform.
13 years on, and that sweet, young diver who captured the hearts of many a Team GB fan, has turned into something of a grandad of the sport. Daley admits himself that as he turns 27 this week, he is considered an old man among his competitors.
But with two months to go until the Games are due to kick-off in Tokyo, Daley arguably looks in the form of his life - and he has not even peaked yet. This month alone, he has won two World Cup golds, as well as European gold and silver in Budapest over the weekend.
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With Matty Lee, he has found a synchronised 10m partner who he appears to have a perfect sporting connection with. They claimed gold at both those events, the most impressive the World Cup victory in the same pool they will compete in at Tokyo 2020 - hitting a personal best score in the process.
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Daley was impressed, but told BBC Sport afterwards that: "That was a score which would have actually won the Chinese nationals this week, which is a good sign ahead of the Olympics and I feel we can still make improvements before Tokyo."
The European Aquatics Championships were a bit more mixed for Daley. After winning the synchro event, he had to rely on a sensational fifth dive - the highest scoring of his career - to take silver.
But it is his experience which arguably pulled his competition back and it is what could put him in a great position to at least upgrade from his two Olympic bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
That was encapsulated with his reaction after the event - and it seems he never really got flustered with the situation he was in:
“I was really happy with the first dive but then the second one I dropped down the rankings, but I’ve learnt through my years of experience to never give up and it’s not over ‘til it’s over.
I tried to keep fighting and fighting all the way, but I hadn’t quite done enough, as going into the last round I realised it was mathematically impossible to be able to win.
“But at the end of the day, to come away with a silver medal and a gold medal from these championships, I’m really happy.
I always want to win – that’s in the nature of any sportsperson, but at the same time there’s some valuable learning experiences and lessons, and lots of the technical things I’ve been trying to fix I’ve fixed. So now it’s just about sharpening up and not making silly mistakes.
Daley seems to have no big issues dealing with high-pressure situations - but he’s used to it. Nine years ago in London and 18 at the time, the diver’s picture was displayed across billboards, at bus stops, and across almost every Team GB promotional activity, alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill. The spotlight had been on him since he broke on to the scene properly as a 13-year-old, becoming Britain’s youngest European diving gold medallist in Eindhoven.
The mental strength, when you consider everything he has had to contend with, is special. Daley made his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008 aged just 14 but he continued to be nurtured by a close bond with his parents, notably his father Robert - a man he has described as his “greatest cheerleader” - who died in 2011, one year out from London 2012.
He has already spoken about how becoming a father has changed his perspective on life, particularly during the pandemic. Daley may well be approaching his final Games - he’s yet to confirm whether Paris 2024 is one step too far or not. But this mature, measured Tom Daley may be one to watch in Tokyo - especially with Lee in the synchro.
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