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’

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport -

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

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