Daley overcame knee surgery last month to win Olympic gold at his fourth Games (Image: xxxxxxxxxxx)
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As Tom Daley clutched the Olympic gold medal he had just won his thoughts turned to the dad he had lost.
To Rob, who had been there with him at the start of his incredible journey from 14-year-old Boy Wonder in Plymouth to champion here in Tokyo.
“My dad was my biggest cheerleader,” said Daley, wiping away tears as he left the podium where he and partner Matty Lee had collected the spoils of victory in the men's synchronised 10m platform.
“When he passed away in 2011 it was extremely difficult for me. I know he would be extremely proud of how I have become an Olympic champion.”
Daley and Lee produced the performance of their lives to hold off crack Chinese duo Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen over six rounds of high class competition and win by just 1.23 points.
They scored perfect 10s for two of their dives and delivered their slickest routines when it mattered most.
Daley and Matty Lee with their gold medals
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
The emotion flowed at the end as Daley, competing in his fourth Olympics, was hooked up to a live television link with hubby Dustin and son Robbie poolside.
But his thoughts quickly turned to his late dad “because this was always OUR dream growing up.”
Tom said: “Dad took me to every single training training session, to every competition that he could, whether domestic or international.
Daley with his late father Rob
(Image: Daily Mirror)
“He never got to see me win an Olympic medal, not in London, not in Rio, not here.
“He never saw me get married, have a child. He never got to teach me to drive, have a pint down the pub.”
Rob, who passed away at the age of 40 following a battle with brain cancer, would have been proud as punch of the way his son, now a 27-year old husband and father, triumphed over adversity.
Moment of triumph: Daley and Lee learn they have become Olympic champions
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Daley jnr had kept secret the fact he sustained a serious knee injury which threatened his participation here as recently as last month.
“In June I tore my meniscus and went under knee surgery to get it removed,” he revealed.
“I couldn’t actually straighten my leg. It was locked and I couldn’t actually walk or do anything and there was a chance I wasn’t actually going to be able to be here.
Perfect harmony: British duo performed out of their skin in Tokyo final
(Image: Getty Images)
“The specialists explained the risks with surgery – but it was either I can’t walk or surgery so I had to risk it.”
He added: “There was a lot of visualisation, a lot of trust in my experience and the process of getting back.
“They said it would be four to six weeks and it was six by the time we left. I am extremely thankful for everyone who made it possible that we could even dive today.”
Tom celebrates with his coach Jane Figueiredo
You would never have known there had been an issue as he threw himself off the top board in perfect sync with Lee, 23, who “idolised” Daley growing up.
For two dives they held second spot before losing ground, if not position, on their third. They were far from done though and fought back quite brilliantly to nick it by the narrowest of margins.
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“We knew we couldn't put a foot wrong in this competition if we were going to win it,” Daley said.
“Lying in bed I would visualise my dive over and over again. We both believed we could win and it played out how we visualised it.”