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Tom Daley won his second world title in 2017 in the 10m platform final
British National Diving Cup
Venue: Plymouth Life Centre Dates: 1-3 February
Coverage: Live across connected TV, BBC Sport website, app and via BBC iPlayer

Diver Tom Daley has experienced more in the past decade than most do in a lifetime.

Between his first world title at the age of 15 and the latest 18 months ago, his father passed away, he secured a memorable Olympic bronze at London 2012, delivered a very public coming out message, endured a shock exit in the individual 10m platform at Rio 2016 and married Hollywood screenwriter and director Lance Black.

However, he sees 2018 as his most dramatic to date with a series of injuries and illnesses leading to a career break; while the arrival of his first child also cast doubts over his long-term future in diving.

After a comeback national title alongside his new synchro partner Matty Lee in his home city of Plymouth though, he his now considering extending his career through to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, but I’m now feeling fitter, stronger and healthier than ever and I wouldn’t rule out continuing after the next Olympics,” Daley tells BBC Sport.

Pneumonia and concussions a ‘learning curve’

After marriage and delivering one of the performances of his life to beat the reigning Olympic champion Chen Aisen of China in the 2017 World Championship final, Daley was full of optimism heading into 2018.

However, rather than preparing for the new season in a traditionally exotic sun-soaked location, the diver found himself in hospital.

“I started the off-season with pneumonia and although it was only a day-case thing in hospital I never really recovered properly,” says Daley.

“I came back to training a little bit too early and then I was always run down and got something similar to glandular fever.

“I was still trying to dive and I ended up with some concussions and had stress responses in both shins.”

The diver says he “should have dealt with it better” and was told by British Swimming medics not to compete individually at the Commonwealth Games in April.

He was still able to claim 10m synchro gold with Olympic bronze medal-winning team-mate Dan Goodfellow, in what turned out to be their last event as a pair, but he then decided to take a break from the sport for the first time in his career.

“Both body and mind needed time to rest,” said Daley, who won his first senior national title in 2008 at the age of just 13.

“It was the best decision I’ve made in my whole career to take the break and just be able to reset, refocus and regroup, especially with the impending parenthood.”

Daley and Goodfellow won synchronised 10m platform gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in May 2018 before he took a break from the sport

Fatherhood ‘changes everything’

Baby Robbie – named after the diver’s late father Rob – arrived with Daley and his husband in June and despite a few sleepless nights they are both loving their “amazing” new role as parents.

“It’s incredible, it changes your perspective on everything and it’s nice that diving isn’t my whole world anymore,” he says.

“He is like a cheeky little monkey to be honest, but he’s the most adorable, sweetest and caring little kid who’s growing up so quickly.”

Daley says he and his husband share overnight responsibilities, with Lance looking after Robbie for most of the day while the diver is training, before Tom takes over in the evenings as Lance takes calls from his native USA.

Although Robbie has featured in select social media posts on both of his parents’ accounts, they have refrained from showing his face.

“When he was born there were so many of our family members that hadn’t met him in person so we wanted to keep it for them and for us,” he said.

“It’s nice not to have him blasted all over social media, although I know in the future that might change going into Tokyo 2020 as he’ll be coming to watch and there’s not going to be anything stopping people taking photos.

“Right now we just want to keep him to ourselves as he’s our son and we want to do everything we can to protect him.”

‘It might be worth staying around until 2024’

Winning the National Cup synchronised 10m platform event alongside Lee was not the only new experience for Daley on Saturday as it was the first time he had competed in front of his son.

Although seven-month-old Robbie most likely had “no idea what was going on” and may end up using his medal as a “teething toy” it was a “fun” experience for him.

“I looked over for him ahead of my first dive and could see he was having his bottle, so he clearly wasn’t paying too much attention,” joked the diver.

Daley says that Robbie’s presence could play a part in him continuing in the sport beyond the next Olympics.

“I would love Robbie to be old enough to understand what we were doing but at the end of the day I want to make sure that I’m still able to walk, do everything with him and not beat my body up too much,” he said.

“Last year I might have thought I was coming towards the end of my career with all of my injuries and illnesses, but now I’m feeling healthier and stronger than ever.

“I’m excited about 2020 and if they start adding new events for 2024 – like the mixed synchro – it might be worth staying around.

“It’s all about how long my body can hold out, to be honest, but I wouldn’t rule out going on beyond Toyko 2020.”

Tom Daley will compete in the individual 10m platform final in Plymouth on Sunday at 16:20 GMT.

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