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Tom Daley: The Diver and His Dad (2010)

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12 October 2010 (UK)  »

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A touching examination of the relationship between a young athlete and his father
10 June 2012 | by (Crewe, Cheshire, UK) – See all my reviews

Tom Daley came to national and international prominence when he won the Men's 10 metre platform diving European championship in 2008, at the age of 13, and came 7th in the individual competition and 8th in the synchro competition at the Beijing Olympics. In the summer of 2009, aged 15, he won the World Championships, and this documentary followed him through the 2010 diving season.

The documentary starts with a disappointment at the British Championships, which he had won in 2009 (and would again in 2012) but he was beaten into second place in 2010 (and again in 2011), but worse was to come when he injured his triceps in practice for the European Championship in Budapest, and had to withdraw from competition for most of the summer while he healed. This might have been the kiss of death for the documentary, but instead it focuses on the close loving relationships between Tom and the other members of his family - his two younger brothers who try to maintain that they're not impressed by his achievements, his mother, Debbie, and most of all, his father, Rob. Rob was a huge support to his son - "taxi driver dad", who attended all Tom's training sessions and most of his competitions. However, in 2006 Rob had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and although 80% of it was removed by surgery, there was always the fear that it would return.

The timing of the documentary was a little unfortunate - it was broadcast on BBC1 just days before Tom returned to competition at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where he won both the individual and synchro 10 metre titles; for the first time Rob was absent from the competition, as he was undergoing further chemotherapy and been advised against long-distance travel. Sadly, only a few months later another tumour was discovered, and Rob passed away in May 2011.


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