May 21, 1994 – Tom Daley:
Every time I dive, I feel an adrenaline rush like I did that first time. Until my body fails on me, I will keep going.
David Hockney has painted many famous figures over the past 50 years – and now he’s captured one that I’d like to sit for me, and I don’t even paint.
As I am composing this tribute for his birthday, Daley and Matty Lee have just won their first gold medal as a pair and set a British record in the 10m Synchro Dive at the World Series in London. It’s only their sixth event as a pair, they sat in second place at the halfway mark but in the final round produced a flawless final dive. Their score left China in second place and Russia third.
We’ve been doing it in training, but this is the first time everything has come together in one list. There’s still more to get out of the list, but we’re pretty happy with that.
Daley is the current 10m platform diving world champion. He revealed on his Instagram page that the legendary Hockney had created a portrait of him, showing the diver completely naked.
The portrait is at the Los Angeles Museum of Art as part of Hockney’s 82 Portraits And One Still-Life exhibit. Daley is shown sitting nude on a chair; his only modesty is a strategically placed hand.
On his YouTube channel, Daley talks about taking his mother and husband, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, to LACMA to see the portrait for the first time and explains how he sat for Hockney last year.
Showing his family that portrait, was “weird”, said Daley. Black jokes:
This is a warning shot to you David Hockney, you back off my man!
Daley and Black became fathers, welcoming a baby son, Robbie, a year ago.
It’s also been a year since Daley openly displayed a symbol in support for LGBTQ rights in Russia. He is, of course, one of our pretty planet’s most prominent out gay athletes, chronicling his everyday life with his husband and baby on his weekly video blog that generates hundreds of thousands of views. Russia is ruled by one of the most repressive anti-LGBTQ regimes in the world, with the country’s gay propaganda law being an encouragement of homophobia by the European Court of Human Rights. Its history of oppression goes back to the era of the Soviet Union.
Every medal earned by Daley is a victory for LGBTQ pride and visibility as well as a personal triumph. Daley admitted skipping out on a competition in Russia shortly after coming out of the closet in 2014 because, he says:
I let other people rule by fear and it weighed really heavily on me.
To show his own strength last year, Daley wore a rainbow pride pin on the podium as he accepted his silver medal. Daley:
It can be quite a daunting thing to come here because you never really know what might happen. But I really wanted to make sure that I make an effort to come to Russia and compete as an openly gay man because at the end of the day, I don’t feel like I should change who I am or be any different than who I am when I’m competing and doing the thing that I love.
Daley took home three medals earlier this year in Montreal, adding three more to his trophy case with bronze medals: Men’s 10 Meter Synchronized event, Men’s Individual 10 Meter Platform, and Mixed Three Meter Synchronized.
At the 2012 London Olympics, 18-year-old Daley won a bronze medal in the 10-metre diving event and earned a lot of admirers, many of them gay, who wishfully or not claimed him as their own. He went out a few times with a female American diver whom the media dubbed his “girlfriend”. In September 2013, when he was 19-years-old, he told the press:
I think it’s funny when people say I’m gay. I laugh it off. I’m not. But even if I was, I wouldn’t be ashamed. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest what people thought. I’m cool with my gay following. It’s great to have gay fans.
Three months later, he came out as bisexual. Four months later he came out as definitely gay, not bi, surprising no one.
He specializes in the 10-metre platform event and is a double World champion in the event. He won the 2009 FINA World Championship in the individual event at 15-years-old and regained it in 2017. He was the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the event.
Daley also competes in synchronized and team events. In 2015, he partnered withRebecca Gallantree to the very first mixed team World title, and in 2016 he won a second Olympic bronze in the Men’s Synchronized 10-metre platform, with Daniel Goodfellow. In 2017, he won World silver with Grace Reid in the Mixed 3-metre Springboard Synchronized event.
He started diving at seven-years-old and he made an impact in national and international competitions starting at nine-years-old. He represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was Britain’s youngest competitor, at 14, and the youngest from any nation to participate in a final. In 2009, Daley reached a career-best ranking of Number One in the FINA World Aquatics Championships Diving Rankings for the 10m platform.
He won two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in the 10m synchro diving with Max Brick and the 10m Individual Platform competition and won the bronze medal for Great Britain in the individual competition at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Daley and Goodfellow won a bronze medal in the Synchronized 10m Platform. Daley also set an Olympic record score in the individual 10m platform during the first qualification round but struggled in the semi-final and did not qualify to the final.
In the 2017 FINA World Series, Daley has taken home a bronze medal in Beijing, three bronze medals in Kazan, and one silver medal in Guangzhou. In July 2017 he won the gold medal in the 10m Platform event at the FINA World Championships held in Budapest.
In the 2018 FINA Diving World Series, Daley has won a silver medal and a bronze medal in Beijing, a silver medal in Fuji, a silver medal in Montrea, and a silver medal in Kazan.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, Daley and Goodfellow won gold on the Men’s Synchronized 10-metres Platform.
In summer 2014, Daley was one of 200 public figures who signed a letter opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.
In a statement made on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018, Daley called on all Commonwealth countries to repeal their anti-gay laws. In response, the-then UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Britain’s Trump) told BBC Radio that he would raise concerns about gay rights with leaders of countries where homosexuality is illegal. There have been repeated calls from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for governments to safeguard the rights of their vulnerable LGBTQ minorities.
Daley is big on social media. He has had his YouTube channel for years. He posts videos with Black and fitness videos. Daley also is active on Instagram and Twitter.
Last year, he was a guest on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs. His song choice was How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding. His book choice was Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by his friend J. K. Rowling and his one luxury item was an oven.