October 20 2014 Latest news:
Freddy Mayhew, Reporter
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Olympic superstar Tom Daley has launched a diving academy aimed at getting people into the sport which has seen a surge in popularity due in no small part to his own celebrated achievements.
The London Aquatics Centre, where the Team GB athlete won bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games, will now be the flagship for his new academy which will also spread to facilities up and down the country, including in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
Close to 250 people have already put their names down for the programme, which can cater for some 2,000 members and will cost from £4.50 a session, run by leisure operators and social enterprise GLL under the brand name Better.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Tom said the academy was something he had “always wanted to do” to make diving more accessible as a sport.
His role will be mainly motivating and inspiring the next generation and he said he would help oversee the start of some of the sessions which coincide with his own vigorous twice-daily training regime.
The 19-year-old has been based at the aquatics centre since moving to Stratford from his home town of Plymouth.
He admitted it gave him a “warm, fuzzy feeling” to return to the iconic wave-like structure and said he wasn’t troubled by the fact it was now a public pool and paying swimmers could see him in his trademark Speedos.
“I have always grown up with the fact that I’m in a diving pool and I wear skimpy little trunks and I’m just used to it,” said the Olympian.
“I don’t even think about it now. I’m kind of used to being half naked.”
A familiar name before the Olympics, it was the Games that saw an explosion in his celebrity status to become one of Britain’s most instantly recognisable sportsmen.
“The Olympic Games changed my life massively,” admitted Tom.
“It’s hard to go shopping or do anything without being asked for pictures. But it’s really nice.”
Even American trainer, Jane Figueiredo, who has been coaching Tom since mid January, claims his following is the biggest she has seen among his diving peers.
She added: “Tom is the complete package. Amazing athlete, awesome personality, kind, considerate and he never says no to a picture.”
On setting up his new home in Stratford, Tom, said: “It’s great. I’m near everything I need. At the moment I’m really enjoying it.”
Next for the reigning British 10m diving champion will be competing against the world’s best at the FINA/NVC Diving World Series which runs from April 25 to 27 at the London Aquatics Centre.
For more on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, visit the Parklife section of our website.