Sports

Tom Daley is the activist Olympian making a difference around the world

Diver Tom Daley is more than one of Britain’s most celebrated Olympians, he’s also a fearsome activist for LGBTQ rights making a difference in the U.K. and throughout the Commonwealth.

Daley’s Olympic story begins at a young age. He began diving at the age of eight, and immediately fell in love with the sport. It’s also at this time that a young Daley seemed to be far more than a child trying to dive for fun — he was a champion. Tom won the 8/9 year old championship in the 1m springboard, 3m springboard and platform events, attracting the attention of followers of the sport.

Then in 2004, at the age of 10 he gained national attention for winning his age group in every single diving discipline at the British Championships. It was at this time national coaches realized there was something extremely special about Daley, and he began training for the national team.

In 2007, at the age of 12, Daley was granted a special dispensation, which allowed him to compete at the 2007 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, where entrance is typically only granted to athletes 15-years-old or higher. Here the teenager astonished the crowd, competing through a thumb injury and winning silver with his partner in the synchro platform.

Olympic dreams on the horizon with London in 2012, Daley was viewed as one of the nation’s best medal chances, and a home games was the perfect event to show the world the diver Daley had become. He went on to win bronze in the 10m platform, a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old and Daley became a national hero.

For most Olympians a medal win is more about fame and fortune, but Daley used the opportunity to become involved in activism. In 2013 he announced he was in a relationship with a man on his YouTube channel, describing himself as “queer,” and becoming a patron of the LGBTQ+ charity Switchboard, which offers a helpline and support for the community.

Daley’s activism continued up to the Rio Olympics in 2016, where Daley once again medaled, this time winning bronze in the 10m synchro once again. Using the fame once more to elevate the conversation of LGBTQ+ rights, Daley appealed to nations during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 asking nations which still had anti-LGBTQ laws to repeal them. Daley’s influence led to pressure being put on nations from United Kingdom heads of government, representing the first occasion his activism made a major impact outside of the U.K.

Now, at age 27 and entering his third Olympics, Daley has already claimed the first gold medal of his career, winning the 10m synchro. Now he’s aiming for individual gold.

How to watch Tom Daley in Tokyo

  • Men’s 10m platform: Friday, August 6 at 1:00 a.m. ET

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