Tom Daley to receive OBE after ending wait for diving gold at Tokyo Olympics

·3 min read

Tom Daley has been recognised with an OBE in the New Year Honours list after ending his elusive wait for Olympic diving gold in July.

Daley, who is being honoured for services to diving, LGBT+ rights and charity, had bagged bronze medals at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 before finally getting to stand on top of the podium at Tokyo 2020, with an emotional medal ceremony afterwards among the enduring moments of the Games.

Amid stiff competition from the Chinese pair of Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen, Daley and diving partner Matty Lee held their nerve to land first place in the men’s synchronised 10 metres platform, prevailing by just 1.23 points.

Tom Daley, right, and Matty Lee prevailed in the men's synchronised 10m platform (Adam Davy/PA)
Tom Daley, right, and Matty Lee prevailed in the men’s synchronised 10m platform in Tokyo (Adam Davy/PA)

While Lee, who has been awarded an MBE, reflected on a “really special” feeling after helping his good friend to a long-awaited gold medal, Daley revealed just weeks earlier he had to undergo surgery on a torn meniscus.

But the 27-year-old from Plymouth struck a particular chord in the afterglow of victory when discussing his own journey and acceptance of himself, having come out in 2013.

Daley, who is married to screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, with whom he has a son, Robbie, said at the time: “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone.

“You can achieve anything. When I was younger I didn’t think I’d ever achieve anything because of who I was. To be an Olympic champion now just shows that you can achieve anything.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Nine
Tom Daley knits in the stands during the women’s 3m springboard final at the Tokyo Olympics (Joe Giddens/PA Images).

Daley, who has not ruled out competing at Paris 2024 and could be enticed by the prospect of mixed or team events being put into the schedule, was among a record number of LGBT+ athletes in Japan.

Some of the competitors came in for offensive commentary from Russian state television and, while Daley feels accepted in Britain, he feels much more can be done to achieve acceptance worldwide.

“It’s come a long way,” he added after collecting bronze in the men’s 10m platform. “There’s still a lot further to go. There are 10 countries that are competing at these Olympic Games where being LGBT is punishable by death.

“I feel extremely lucky to be representing Team GB, to be able to stand on the diving board as myself with a husband and a son and not worry about any ramifications.

Tom Daley, left, finished second in the voting at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (David Davies/PA)
Tom Daley, left, finished second in the voting at the 2021 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (David Davies/PA)

“But I know that I’m very fortunate to have that and that there are lots of people who grow up around the world with less fortunate situations.”

Daley, who finished second in the voting at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, behind only tennis player Emma Raducanu, earned something of a cult following during his time in the Japanese capital.

That was because of his knitting hobby, which he started just before the first UK lockdown in March last year, with Daley pictured with his needles and thread while watching team-mates on several occasions.

His Instagram account, madewithlovebytomdaley, is dedicated to knitting and crocheting and has amassed 1.4million followers, where he unveiled the fruits of his labour last summer: a Team GB cardigan.