Tom Daley had his Pride rainbow shammy with him at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, in February. | Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

When Tom Daley steps onto the 10m board at the Paris Aquatics Centre next month, there is set to be something different compared to his four previous Olympics outing.

At Beijing 2008 and in London four years later, the then teenager used a tie-dye multicolored shammy between dives. For the subsequent Games in Rio and Tokyo, he favored a Union Jack flag design on his towel.

However, since returning to competitive action last December, Daley has carried a shammy in Pride rainbow colors — and it seems certain to be with him when he pairs up with Noah Williams to defend Team GB’s synchro platform title.

With uncertainties lingering around how much Pride visibility LGBTQ athletes are permitted to bring to the Paris Games, this small but significant symbol will be appreciated by millions watching around the world.

Now, in a new short film from Adidas produced for Pride Month, Daley shares why his shammy is an essential item in his locker, in a conversation with WNBA star Layshia Clarendon.

“It’s something every diver has,” says the 30-year-old. “And of course, it’s got the rainbow moment going!

“I absolutely could not dive without this, because when we’re spinning around when we’re wet, it can be very slippery.

“With the g-force you experience when you’re spinning around, you want to be able to hold onto your legs and pull in, so it keeps you warm and allows you not to slip out of your dive.”

Equipment practicalities aside, it begs the question — why has Daley switched up his shammy from national flag to community flag?

As a U.K. sporting icon, he’s known for being affectionately patriotic to the Union Jack. Fans and followers will be used to seeing pics over the years of Daley’s London residence, containing a large sofa in red, white and blue.

In recent years, however, he’s leaned strongly into LGBTQ advocacy, most notably at the opening ceremony for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games when he led a group of activists into the arena, all carrying Progress Pride flags.

Daley campaigned hard to make that moment happen; it was broadcast live to many nations around the world where LGBTQ people are criminalized.

Consider too that in the last year, he and his family have moved from London to Los Angeles in large part due to the emotional ordeal of Dustin Lance Black’s assault trial brought by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service. The case was dismissed in November due to lack of evidence.

It’s all part of the context of why Daley is in more of “a rainbow moment” with his shammy, heading into Paris.

Other items in his kit include a small canvas painting by his 5-year-old son Robbie, his knitting which helps with mindfulness, and a tub of wax, which intrigues Clarendon.

Daley explains: “Basically you rub it on your hands and then you rub it on your legs, so when you grab onto your legs, you can pull in really tight and you’re not going to slip.

“It’s really sticky! You warm it up in your hands and you rub it all together — it allows you to keep grip.”

Later in the Adidas film, in a segment titled “Pressure Points” where each is getting treatment on the massage tables,  Daley and Clarendon chat about their respective coming out experiences.

Daley shared his personal news back in December 2013 via a YouTube video that went viral, meaning he has now been out in men’s sports for over a decade.

“It does feel like it singles you out a little bit,” he says. “You almost feel a bit awkward sometimes, in the locker room scenario.”

Clarendon compares this with the environment they have found since coming out as nonbinary in the WNBA in 2020.

“Women are given a little more space with their gender, to be tomboys,” they explain. “Like you think about the term, there’s no such thing as a ‘tomgirl’ — little boys don’t get to grow up and be ‘tomgirls’!”

“I was a Tom-girl!” laughs Daley.

A relaxed conversation then develops around the stereotypes that still hold men back, with Daley acknowledging the “scary” expectations placed on high-profile LGBTQ athletes to be advocates for the community.

However, the feeling of not having to lie or “be ashamed any more” is ultimately why coming out is the more appealing option, he adds.

For Clarendon, the response to coming out was “overwhelming in the best possible way” — an emotion felt most when heading out on court with the New York Liberty and subsequently the Minnesota Lynx, following top surgery.

They add: “There were so many trans and nonbinary fans. People would come to games with signs, like ‘I had top surgery too!’ — screaming when I would run through the tunnel.”

There’s an authentic bond between the two athletes through being LGBTQ even though their personal journeys are very different.

The contributions of Jo Kokk — a soccer player with Stonewall FC’s women and nonbinary team in London, England — and Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor broaden out the film too.

There’s even a little quiz thrown in which includes mention of the number of out LGBTQ athletes who competed at the Tokyo Olympics (fun fact — it was Outsports who collated that info).

Throughout you can see glimpses of the new Pabllo Vittar-designed adidas Pride line, included in our recent list of 10 of the best Pride Month efforts in sports.

Not only do we learn more about Daley and Clarendon as people, we also get what is still a relatively rare LGBTQ interaction between different sports — more Pride power to our athletes, please.