The stress of an Olympic poster boy

I’m writing this in the early morning of Saturday 11th August: after Tom Daley got through the preliminary round of the 10m mens diving, and before the semi finals which are at 10am.

Tom Daley was one of the poster stars of the 2012 Olympics. He was a child prodigy who had to suffer growing up in the full glare of the media with ever an hungry audience to sate. He suffered his father’s death through cancer without any real remit and still he was, and is, expected to perform.

Because of media hype I, like everone else in the country, thought Tom Daley was a shoe in for the gold. That’s before I actually watched any diving. Holy shit! 10 metres is high! It’s like diving off the top of a three story house. Rather them than me (I kid. Actually, next Olympics, I rather fancy myself winning gold on a BMX).

Tom Daley is 18. He’s a brilliant athlete, as are all those taking part in the Olympics, but he’s also having to perform with the immense weight of public expectation on his shoulders. If anyone else is off form it’s a shame. If Tom Daley is off form he’s getting too involved with his media obligations; he should be resting rather than taking part in the opening ceremony; he’s … and the list of complaints and whinging goes on.

He’s 18! Give the guy a break. What he’s doing is phenomenal. So what if he and Peter Waterfield came 4th in the syncronised 10m? And so what if he doesn’t get a medal later on today? The syncro was a shame, but that’s life.

I’ll be rooting for him all the way later on today. If he doesn’t get a medal I’ll be sad for him, but I’ll bear in mind he’s only 18. He’ll be back if only people give him a chance … and especially the media.

Headlines like the BBC’s

Tom Daley scrapes into Olympics diving semis

are mean-spirited, rotten, and frankly stink. The rest of the short piece isn’t any better:

British diving star Tom Daley endured a torrid preliminary round in the 10m platform as he edged through to Saturday’s semi-finals.

A poor start was compounded by a sloppy fifth dive to leave him in 16th place with a round to go.

The 18-year-old did just enough with his final dive to move up to 15th, with the top 18 in the 32-man field progressing.

But team-mate Peter Waterfield could only finish 23rd and is now out.

Facts are facts. It’s the tone I find objectionable.

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