Daley, Lee win Olympic diving gold for Britain Tom Daley (left) and Matty Lee of Britain on the podium after winning gold in synchronised 10m platform diving.
BRITAIN’S Tom Daley and Matty Lee edged out hot favourites China to win gold in the synchronised 10m platform diving at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday (26).
Daley, 27, in what could be his final Olympics, wiped away tears on the podium as he finally added gold to the bronzes he won at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.
China’s Chen Aisen and Cao Yuan, both already twice Olympic gold medallists, were in pole position for another title until they made a mess of their fourth dive of six.
Daley, one of Britain’s most recognisable athletes, and Lee took full advantage to deny the all-powerful Chinese their hopes of a golden sweep in diving in the Japanese capital.
The Britons held their nerve on the last dive to win the final with 471.81 points, with the Chinese a narrow second on 470.58 and the Russians Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev a distant third.
Lee, 23, was left praying pool-side as the scores for China’s last dive confirmed that he and Daley had won.
For Daley it is reward for a life lived in the public eye since childhood.
He began diving at the age of seven and there was a media frenzy around him when he competed at the 2008 Beijing Games as a fresh-faced schoolboy of just 14.
A year later, in Rome, Daley won gold at the world championships to underline his prodigious talent.
But there were growing pains. He was bullied at school and in 2011 his father, Rob, died of cancer aged 40.
There was immense pressure on Daley as a home gold-medal prospect – and one of the faces – of the London Games.
He did not quite live up to the hype, winning bronze in the 10m platform, and recently told the BBC: “Looking back, I sometimes wonder, ‘Was that my time? Could it have been gold?’
Daley has said that it was only after the London Games that the death of his father really hit him.
There were also injuries, he considered quitting diving and speculation constantly swirled about his sexuality.
In late 2013, when he was 19, he came out as gay and is now married to the Oscar-winning film-maker Dustin Lance Black.
Together they have a young son, Robbie, named after Daley’s father.
At Rio 2016, Daley won bronze again, this time alongside Daniel Goodfellow.
Daley has transcended his sport. He is vocal on gay issues, including urging homosexual footballers to be open about their sexuality to help young fans who are struggling with their identity.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he won gold with Goodfellow, he called on nations in the Commonwealth who outlaw homosexuality to relax their anti-gay stance.
In recent months, Daley has made headlines once more back in Britain – this time for passing time under pandemic lockdowns by getting into crochet and knitting.