Heading To The Olympics - At Just 14!
Fourteen-year old Tom Daley is a diving wunderkind. This year he has already won three gold medals, two in the 2008 British Championships and one in the European Championship, where he won with a perfect score. His next challenge? - The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Nicknamed 'Diver Boy' at school, Tom did not start diving until he was seven years old. Even then it wasn't all smooth sailing. His coach, Andy Banks remembers the first day Tom came for diving practice. He stood in the corner and cried for 15 minutes. Mr. Banks recalls thinking that he didn't think Tom had what it took to become a good diver. He was soooooo wrong. Not only is Tom one of the best divers, he will also be the second youngest British Olympian since Kenneth Lester, who was 13 when he competed as part of the men's rowing team in Rome in 1960.
Tom's parents are amazed and a little surprised by his success, since neither of them are great athletes. They are however, fully supportive of what Tom is doing without pressuring him in any way.
Tom, who manages to balance his schoolwork with his increasingly busy diving schedule, says he loves diving. But he also admits his success has a lot to with sheer hard work, which include three-hour pracitices on school days and six hours on holidays. While he misses out on some fun with his friends, he says he doesn't mind it that much - he'd rather be diving. When he is not competing or practicing, Tom says he is just like any other teenager. He loves to play the Nintendo Wii with his two younger brothers and hang out with friends.
While everybody is hoping Tom will do well in the 2008 Olympics, no one including Tom, is expecting a medal. Instead his coach and his parents are focusing on the 2012 Olympics, when Tom will be 18 and they believe, at the peak of his career. Their advice to Tom is to go to Beijing and try his best, but also have a lot of fun. We get the feeling that this young man may surprise us all, with a place on the awards podium. What do you think? Be sure to add your comments below.
Enjoy the two videos - In the first one Tom talks about his dream to go to the Olympics. In the second one he talks about how his life has changed since he qualified for them.
Sources: TimesOnline, Telegraph.co.uk, BBC.com