Daley dances to a second world title as pressure dive banishes Rio pain
Briton beats Chinese rival to win 10m platform final ‘I can put 2016 to bed now and move on to Tokyo’
Tom Daley relished the pressure in responding from his Olympic disappointment to win a second World Championships 10m platform title in Budapest yesterday.
The 23-year-old Plymouth diver was inconsolable after missing out on qualification from the Olympic semi-final in Rio last August, having been peerless in the earlier qualification heat.
Daley this time delivered, after Olympic champion Chen Aisen had piled on the pressure, to add to the world title he first won in 2009, aged 15. Daley had an advantage of 5.7 points over Chen going into the last of six rounds. Chen scored 106.20 to leave Daley needing his best dive of the series to win. And he delivered.
“When I saw Chen Aisen do his last dive, I saw the Chinese team cheering and celebrating as if they had won,” Daley said. “And I was like ‘OK, you want to play that game? I’m going to show you what I can do too’. It turned me into a competitive animal. I was like ‘OK, this is fun – this is what we’ve all been working for. Let the best man win’. It was a weird competitive feeling. It was like I had blinkers on.”
Daley won with a total of 590.95 points – more than Chen scored in winning Olympic gold in Rio. Chen finished second with 585.25 points and bronze went to China’s Yang Jian with 565.15, while Briton Matty Lee was 12th. Asked if it stirred memories of Rio, Daley did not wish to dwell on his Olympic disappointment.
“Knowing I can win makes it feel good,” he added. “I can put to bed Rio now and move on to Tokyo.”
Daley, the London 2012 bronze med- allist, was third in the world in Kazan two years ago. He was unable to explain his Olympic exit but vowed to go for gold again in Tokyo.
Budapest was a good start. Husband Dustin Lance Black, the Hollywood screenwriter, and his mum Debbie watched on in the Duna Arena. Daley and Grace Reid earlier claimed silver in the mixed synchronised 3m springboard, singing and dancing in the shower between dives.
That approach worked for Daley, who decided to keep singing in his individual final.
“Even on the 10m I was still singing along and having a little boogie,” Daley added. “Having a bit of fun and enjoying it helps you dive well.” Enjoyment was Daley’s approach in 2009 when he last stood on top of a global podium.
He added: “After the Olympics last year, this year I wanted to make sure that I had that same 15-year-old’s mentality on the end of the board, of enjoying it, loving my sport.”
Redemption: Tom Daley put his 2016 Olympic woe to bed by ‘having fun’ and enjoying the world final in Budapest