A big fam­ily is what we’ve al­ways wanted

CHAM­PION DIVER TOM DA­LEY SPEAKS TO GABRIELLE FA­GAN ABOUT BE­ING A NEW DAD, AND HIS DRIV­ING AM­BI­TION TO WIN AN OLYMPIC GOLD

Coventry Telegraph - - CELEBRITY WELLBEING -

DIV­ING star Tom Da­ley had two long-cher­ished dreams: Be­com­ing a fa­ther and win­ning Olympic gold.

In June, Tom, 24, and his hus­band, Hol­ly­wood screen­writer Dustin Lance Black, 44, ful­filled the first when their son Robert Ray Black-Da­ley was born.

Tom, a dou­ble Olympic bronze medal­list who has won World, Com­mon­wealth and Euro­pean div­ing golds, says the baby will al­ways be his num­ber one pri­or­ity now, but he’s still train­ing hard to ful­fil his other am­bi­tion.

Here the star, who mar­ried in 2017, talks can­didly about fa­ther­hood, mar­riage, whether he’ll have more chil­dren, and speak­ing out about gay rights.

What’s it like be­ing a dad?

FA­THER­HOOD is amaz­ing. I’ve al­ways wanted to get mar­ried and have chil­dren and now I’m the hap­pi­est I’ve ever been.

I’ve had this real pa­ter­nal thing for years and was buy­ing baby clothes from about the age of 17.

Our baby had a pretty good wardrobe well be­fore he ar­rived!

What’s mar­ried life like?

IT’S been the most in­cred­i­ble year to­gether. Be­ing mar­ried makes you feel re­ally safe, and it’s so com­fort­ing to know I’m com­ing home to my hus­band. It’s sta­bil­ity.

We re­ally con­nected when we first met in 2013 be­cause we’d both suf­fered a be­reave­ment.

I lost my dad in 2011, he lost his older brother in 2012 and then he lost his mum in 2014. He knew what it was like to lose re­ally im­por­tant fam­ily mem­bers and that’s cre­ated such a strong bond be­tween us.

How much are you in­spired by your late fa­ther, Rob, in your par­ent­ing?

MAS­SIVELY. My dad was a de­voted par­ent who sup­ported me so much with my div­ing. I can only hope to be as good as him as a dad.

“I like to think he’d be su­per proud of ev­ery­thing I’ve achieved and how I’ve turned out. I was just 17 when he died and it’s very sad he’ll never meet his grand­son, never saw me mar­ried, never saw me win an Olympic medal.

I love that he never used to care what peo­ple thought about him – he’d wave the big­gest Union Jack flag, sing the na­tional an­them so loudly and cheer for me, no mat­ter what any­one thought. Some­times it used to em­bar­rass me but now I re­alise he lived the way he wanted to, didn’t care what any­one else thought be­cause he re­alised life was too short to worry. It’s a life les­son I want to pass on to our child.

How did los­ing him change you?

LOS­ING him made me re­alise you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen.

Now I re­alise you can be ex­cited for the fu­ture, but al­ways en­deav­our to live in the now and en­joy the mo­ment. I miss him very much and talk about him to my mum a lot. He taught me to ‘do a good deed ev­ery day for some­one’ and I try to do that, even if it’s only a small thing.

Will you have more chil­dren?

WE HAD an egg donor and a sur­ro­gate who have no bi­o­log­i­cal con­nec­tion and we have fer­tilised eggs. Half were fer­tilised by me and half by Lance.

A big fam­ily is al­ways what we’ve wanted but we said we’d see how we go with one child and make a de­ci­sion from there. I’ve al­ways been such a fam­ily per­son, it’s very im­por­tant to me.”

How will fa­ther­hood af­fect your sport­ing per­for­mance?

IT WILL be our baby first and div­ing sec­ond as a pri­or­ity, of course, but I think hav­ing our son will make me per­form even bet­ter.

“I’ve still got a driv­ing am­bi­tion to win an Olympic gold. The thought of that keeps me work­ing each day be­cause it’s the one (gold) medal that eludes me.

You spoke out about gay rights at the Com­mon­wealth Games this year af­ter win­ning gold – why was that im­por­tant to you?

I RE­ALISED when I went to the Games how lucky I was to be mar­ried to some­one I love with­out any worry about ram­i­fi­ca­tions and to be able to rep­re­sent my coun­try in a sport I love and not have to worry about be­ing thrown into jail.

At that time, there were 37 (Com­mon­wealth) coun­tries which crim­i­nalised LGBT peo­ple. I just wanted to shine a light on that. I feel ev­ery per­son has the right to feel love for some­one what­ever their sex, re­li­gion, eth­nic­ity or back­ground. Love tran­scends all those things.

“I feel lighter and freer now I’ve come out. When you try and hide who you re­ally are and sup­press emo­tions, it’s a big bur­den and a weight on your shoul­ders.

There’s some­thing so lib­er­at­ing about be­ing able to be truly who you are and it feels great to be my au­then­tic self.

How did you cope with the crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia about your de­ci­sion to have a child?

THERE’S not a lot that can sur­prise me nowa­days in terms of peo­ple on so­cial me­dia who say what­ever they want from be­hind a com­puter. They wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily say it to your face. When we saw the hor­ri­ble mes­sages, I de­tached my­self from it and avoided reading most of it.

How do you look af­ter your wellbeing?

BE­ING present in the mo­ment is cru­cial to wellbeing. I’ve had pe­ri­ods in my life where I’ve been con­sumed with self-doubt and mind­ful­ness has re­ally helped me to over­come them.

Af­ter the 2016 Olympics when I didn’t qual­ify for the men’s 10 me­tre fi­nal, it felt like ev­ery­thing I’d worked to­wards had been shat­tered to pieces. As time’s moved on, I’ve taken away the pos­i­tives from that ex­pe­ri­ence and moved on.

I’ve learned to de­tach my­self from neg­a­tive talk in my head, and ev­ery day I prac­tise 10 min­utes of med­i­ta­tion us­ing an app.

I do yoga, and have a diet that’s en­ergy-giv­ing and boosts my im­mune sys­tem.

Through my new book, Tom’s Daily Goals, I want to show peo­ple you don’t have to be an ath­lete to im­prove your life, health and wellbeing. My book’s aimed at or­di­nary, nor­mal peo­ple, like my mum, who want to get fit­ter.

Tom’s Daily Goals: Never Feel Hun­gry or Tired Again by Tom Da­ley is pub­lished by HQ, priced £16.99

Tom Da­ley, left, and his new book, be­low

Tom with his bronze medal won at the 2012 Olympics and in train­ing ear­lier this year, left

Tom with his par­ents, Rob and Deb­bie in 2008 and above with hus­band Dustin Lance Black

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