Tom Daley, the 19-year-old former world champion and Olympic bronze medallist, enjoys the kind of popularity usually reserved for pop stars and draws huge crowds wherever he competes. Daley recently visited Dubai to compete in the FINA Diving World Series. Here he shares his favourite things about the Emirate...
The thing I like about Dubai is the fact that there’s so much to do. You can never say you’re bored because there’s always something to experience: different malls, the beaches, the water parks.
I’ve been here on holiday with my friends and it’s great fun. There are amazing facilities for diving, too. It’s great to come here to compete as part of the British team as well because you get quite a lot of British support. Every year, the British team looks forward to coming back to Dubai.
Most people my age go to university or move away from home, and I think that’s what I needed with my diving to freshen things up
The Hamdan Sports Complex [venue of the FINA Diving World Series] is really cool in that it’s set up like a stadium, so it feels like diving is the main thing. If it was to be filled out completely, it would seem like a diving concert in a kind of way. The facility is set up for major events, not just the World Series, but also maybe world championships and world cups.
I moved to London in the middle of January with my new coach, Jane Figueiredo, and it’s been great. Sometimes with diving, as with anything in life, people just need a change. Most people my age go to university or move away from home, and I think that’s what I needed with my diving to freshen things up. I’ve been working with Jane on new strength programmes and different techniques.
I remember the first time that I jumped from the 10 metre platform. I was eight years old. I kept crawling to the end and not wanting to do it, and then going back and trying again and then going back. But once you do it, you just want to do it over and over again. I remember my first arm-stand dive, too: I was about nine at the time.
I didn’t think in any way that I was even going to be able to get to a national championship standard, let alone this kind of standard. I kind of have to keep reminding myself of that – to not get too frustrated about things. Rio (the 2016 Olympics) is obviously the main event in the next two years – we’re already halfway there. But, before that, you have to focus on the things you need to improve and the competitions that are coming up. And, most importantly, you’ve got to qualify, otherwise you don’t get your place in the Olympics.
The World Series is a good way to get competition practice before qualification starts. You need to achieve top scores at The World Championships, and then also get points in your home country to be selected. It is a long process but Rio 2016 is what all of the athletes are looking ahead to.