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Family and friends hit back in Daley row

ESPN staff
January 11, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Family and friends - including Peter Waterfield - have come out in support of Tom Daley © PA Photos
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Tom Daley has received widespread backing from family, friends and colleagues after he was criticised by the head of British Swimming.

Daley, who won a bronze medal at last summer's Olympic Games in London, was warned by British Swimming head David Sparkes that he was "putting the cart before the horse" by appearing in a television show rather than focus solely on his bid for Olympic gold at Rio 2016.

But Daley was strongly backed by those close to him, most notably his mother - who wrote a 1,500-word response to Sparkes' remarks.

"As far as I'm aware, Tom was one of the few major success stories for British Swimming this summer… and possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job," Debbie Daley wrote, in a letter published by the Daily Mail.

"Others say that your performance was the worst of any CEO in British sport. Surely you should be thanking Tom and showing your support and gratitude?"

She added: "A leader should motivate his team, not make them think: 'Why do I bother?' Did you speak out to protect your UK Sport funding and be seen to do the right thing for them?

"Well, if UK Sport want to demotivate the key person in a sport, carry on David. Good work."

Daley, who subsequently called his mum "amazing" for her retort, was also backed by key figures from within swimming - including double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and his synchronised diving partner, Peter Waterfield.

"I don't think that anyone who wants to criticise Tom should do it through the newspapers," Waterfield noted. "He should talk to him in person about it because I think it's wrong to do it in public like that."

Daley's television show, 'Splash!', began last weekend to mixed reviews. The controversy is looked upon with bewilderment in the United States, where a similar show - fronted by the man who beat Daley to gold in London, David Boudia - is being broadcast with the input and involvement of Britain's former diving performance director, Steven Foley.

Foley believes Sparkes should have embraced the opportunity and the coverage, rather than turn it into a divisive issue.

Foley told the Times: "Diving is lucky to get any TV time more than once or twice per four years so what a fabulous opportunity to maybe capitalise with this show."

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