• Bunce on Olympics

Not a dry eye in the house for Daley

Steve Bunce August 12, 2012
Tom Daley made his mark on the Olympics on Saturday © Getty Images
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At last our little Tom has something to smile about.

He became Britain's first individual diving medallist in 52 years when he won bronze with a series of second-long dives at 40mph into the pool. Tom Daley is not the kid anymore, he is an Olympic medallist.

There have, it needs to be said, been times when his relentless on-screen preening has been a bit tiresome. We have seen too much of the smile, too many sugary interviews that barely rustled his hair gel, but that changed in the Olympic diving pool.

Daley has a medal, that is a fact.

However, the level of expectation before Beijing was an insult to the other divers and ignored the realities of the sport they pursue. In Beijing Tom had no chance - in London he had every chance.

It was his dad, Rob, who died last year after a long fight with cancer, that outlined the truth before Beijing. He knew that his little Tom was not ready yet, he knew that the pressure was excessive and he knew, as his devoted dad, that he had to prepare the public and his little boy for not winning a medal.

Tom was just 14 at the time and dads protect their 14-year-old boys, trust me.

When the medal was safely won yesterday little Tom rushed through the media scrum to have a private word with David Beckham, whose presence at the Games has been dignified at all times. The Olympics do strange things and these Games have thrown up some beautiful partnerships: James Bond and the Queen, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt and now Beckham and little Tom.

I have no idea if what the pair said to each other has been recorded or filmed. I just bet they cried and hugged. It should have been Rob there with one of those hugs. Wow, that's an image to make big boys and big girls cry.

During the last year Daley has got serious about his sport, perhaps realising that his looks and ability will fade but that an Olympic medal is eternal. He has turned away from the media and lost a stone in weight to get his body and mind right. It worked and, as expected, his dives attracted nearly as many viewers as Farah's golden moment of history and Luke Campbell's joy in the ring. Early estimates suggest Daley did 15.9m, while Farah nudged up around 17m and Campbell did 7.3m during a night of delight once again.

Now Tom can do what he likes in my eyes. He is a real Olympian and I'm pleased for the kid.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.