After more than a year of lockdowns, home workouts that would make the rest of us catatonic, and occasional shirtless haircuts from his husband, Tom Daley spent one of his first weeks out of quarantine at a familiar place:
The top of the medal podium.
In his first competition in more than 14 months, Daley and partner Matty Lee took home a gold medal in Men’s 10 Meter Synchronized Diving at the 2021 FINA World Cup in Tokyo. Then to top off a magnificent week, Daley earned another gold in the Men’s Individual 10 Meter Platform with a triumphant final round performance.
During the synchro competition, Daley and Lee’s total score of 453.60 outdistanced the silver medalists from Mexico by nearly 50 points. The duo’s platform routines were highlighted by a Reverse 3 1/2 Somersault that earned them an average score of 8.8 and a spotlight as Dive of the Day on FINA’s Instagram:
As soon as Daley and Lee hit the water, you could hear the World Cup announcer proclaim, “YES! Yes yes yes yes yes! That’s what they’re capable of!” You know you’ve done something right when you make a staid British broadcaster channel his inner Kevin McCallister.
The reverse 3 1/2 somersault also proved to be Daley’s most potent weapon in the individual event, earning him a total score of 104.40 that made up a substantial part of his 541.70 final round. And it was clear to everyone in the building that the competition was effectively over as soon as he hit the water.
Daley’s two gold medals were also symbolic in a couple of important ways. For one thing, they emphasized that he’s performing at the top of his game in the same facility where he will soon be competing in the Olympic Games this summer.
As Daley noted to the BBC, “We haven’t been able to compete for a long time, so it’s been great to have this competition in the Olympic venue. Looking back on the two events, I think it’s been a solid performance. Yes, there are some things I need to work on but overall I’m really happy.”
More importantly, as Daley’s husband Dustin Lance Black posted on his Instagram story, they also represented two moments where their son Robbie could watch his papa win a competition from their home in London.
Daley revealed on his most recent vlog that the separation from his son hit him particularly heavily, reflecting, “Oh my gosh, saying good-bye to Robbie this morning and sending him to nursery...I cried so much. It really hit me. Oh my God, I’m not going to see him for 20 days.”
His family was at the top of his mind throughout the competition as even after clinching the individual gold, Daley’s first words upon emerging from the pool were “Hello, Robbie, if you’re watching!”
While the separation during this week has been an emotionally difficult one, hopefully Daley can take some solace that his son got to see him do what he does best. And when he’s reunited with his family, he’ll be bringing home two new gold medals to show him.