Tom Daley: ‘I took up crochet during the pandemic’ | Life and style

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I’ve always been an adrenaline seeker. I love rollercoasters, waterslides – diving is an extension of that. I grew up by the sea in Plymouth. From an early age my parents encouraged my brothers and me to swim in case we got into trouble in the water. Diving gives me that mix of being in the water, but at the same time the adrenaline rush of jumping off something really high.

I went through a stage of not being able to take off on the diving board. When I was younger and my arms and legs were growing at different rates, I used to get scared to go out there. I would stand on the end of the board and literally not be able to move my body. It’s called Loss Move Syndrome, where you suddenly freeze mentally and physically, forget how do to things. Even today, there are times when I get scared standing on the 10m board, but you need that little bit of fear, that adrenaline rush, to make you focus, to stop you making mistakes.

I’m super competitive. Neither of my parents were particularly athletic, but I’ve always had a massively competitive spirit, but that’s typical of any Olympian. Monopoly, Cluedo, competing at the Olympic Games… I just want to win. My husband Lance [Black] is competitive, too, but in a different way. I will try to win at all costs. For him, it’s about enjoying spending time together.

My dad was my biggest cheerleader. He died from brain cancer a year before the London 2012 games. Now I’m a parent I understand so much more about why he used to do the things he did, why he reacted the way he did. You never understand how proud a parent can be of a child until you have a child yourself.

I’ve taken up crochet during the pandemic and like most things in my life I’ve become very committed to it.

Coming out on YouTube was terrifying. I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be. Luckily, it was overwhelmingly positive. Growing up being an LGBTQ+ or queer kid gives you a perspective on the world and what you feel you have to do to fit in. My message to kids who feel different? That perspective you have will be what enables you to be a warrior in the future. It’ll give you resilience.

One thing I learned early on is not to care what other people think. That’s been useful since I’ve been with my husband. I’m 27, he is 47. People have their opinions, but we don’t notice the age gap. When you fall in love, you fall in love.

I had girlfriends briefly before Lance, but nothing serious. As soon as I was with him I knew right away. It was like, ‘OK, wow, this is it.’

I’ve always wanted kids. Even when I was 12 I was excited about being a parent. Robbie is three now. Becoming a parent helps you realise what actually matters. Now, when I’m standing on the end of a board about to dive, I can think: “Whether I dive well or badly I can go home to my family and they’re going to love me regardless.”

People always comment on my six-pack. I spend six hours a day training and when you spend six hours a day training, that kind of physique is easier to keep up.

Having a sense of perspective is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned. Even if I’m standing on the edge of the ten metre diving board about to do my final dive in the final at the Olympic games, it’s important to remind myself that there’s always somebody outside walking their dog who has no idea what is going on inside that pool and doesn’t even care. That relieves a huge amount of pressure.

Tom Daley is a brand ambassador for British Lion Eggs

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