“I was the most terrified I’ve ever been in my life, thinking I could lose it again in front of 18,000 people. I just couldn’t do that dive again after that. I kept seeing the flashing cameras. I had injuries. I would do the minimum in training; I was getting worse and worse.”
Tom Daley is very much the golden boy of the Olympics for a lot of people, and in a recent interview with The Times, he revealed that he nearly quit diving.
He spoke frankly during his interview with The Times, and he spoke about his personal life as well as his career, as well as difficult topics like the PTSD he suffered after the 2012 Olympic Games.
Those of you who watched the Games back then may recall how Tom had to retake a dive after he was distracted by the flashes of the cameras. After this event, he suffered PTSD and got treatment from sports therapists.
He said: “After 2012 I had a rough time getting back into training. I lost motivation. I thought I might not want to do diving any more, not go to another Olympics. I wanted to go out and be a normal teenager.”
“I saw a sports psychologist and had treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from when I had to do the re-dive in London. My instant reaction was that I just didn’t want to go back up there. I wanted the referee to say no dive, but he ordered a re-dive.”
So what kept him diving, then, I hear you ask? Well, apparently it was his fiance Dustin Lance Black. As I mentioned, Tom did seek professional help for his PTSD, but it was his relationship with Dustin that rekindled his passion and motivation to succeed.
“In March 2013 I was at my all-time low and didn’t want to do it any more. Then I met him and thought, ‘This guy won’t want to be with me unless I’m successful at what I do’. I felt happy all of a sudden. Nothing seemed confusing any more. He is a massive, massive support for me.”
He also touched on his life before he was in the public eye, and how he suffered homophobic bullying growing up – a story that is sadly all too common.
“I always thought people called me gay just because that’s what you do. I don’t think it was linked to my sexuality. It happens all the time to everyone at school. It’s the same with people on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m quite thick-skinned.”