2012, A year in the life of: Tom Daley
Throughout December, thisisplymouth.co.uk looks back at the past year in Plymouth. We'll delve into what happened during the last 12 months for people, organisations and even buildings in Plymouth. Today we'll be looking at the last 12 months in the life of Tom Daley.
Tom Daley was the centre of attention when Plymouth turned out in style to celebrate its Olympic heroes with an open bus parade through the city centre in September.
Along the streets, everyone was calling out in support of Plymouth's favourite son with shouts of “Well done, Tom” and “All the best, Tom. You deserve it!”.
And he surely did.
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After a 2011 where Tom Daley lost his father to cancer, the young diving sensation showed his incredible composure, talent and mental strength throughout 2012, making it a year full of success, crowned by two overall World Series titles in the spring and bronze medal in the individual 10m at the London Olympics - Great Britain’s first individual medal in diving since 1960. An emotional Tom Daley dedicated the medal to his father and chose to make the games a permanent part of him by getting a tattoo of the famous rings on his arm.
Other highlights were gold in the three-metre springboard synchro alongside Jack Laugher and the 10m individual dive at the World Junior Diving Championships in Adelaide, to name but a couple.
It was also a busy year for the popular diver outside of the pool. One example gave diners at a traditional Barbican fish and chip shop a bit of a surprise when Tom Daley accompanied by a female model and dressed in a stylish jacket suddenly turned up and posed for a magazine photo shoot.
During 2012 Tom Daley released an autobiography, one of the year's most popular calendars, a diving app game and even saw his portrait painted in toast and Marmite by artist Nathan Wyburn.
The media spotlight on Tom Daley left some wondering if it was too bright and would mean the young diver would not be able to shine at the Olympics. Most widely reported was a feud with performance director for the British Olymic swimming team, Russian Alexei Evangulov, who in late February likened him to Russian former tennis player Anna Kournikova, whose on-court achievements were famously mis-matched with her off-court profile.
Tom Daley ended the controversy by agreeing to make just three major media appearances ahead of the Olympics and later had the last word with his bronze medal win.
Alexei Evangulov is probably not the most popular man in Plymouth as he was the the one who decided to drop Tonia Couch from the individual diving events at the Olympics.
During the Olympics, a Welsh Premier League footballer sparked another controversy by sending an abusive message to Tom Daley. Port Talbot Town FC later confirmed it was sent by the club's midfielder, Daniel Thomas, who was not charged over the abusive message.
On a lighter note, Tom Daley also managed to have a lot of fun in and out of the pool in 2012. For example he and some of the Team GB diving squad featured in a hilarious spoof music video to accompany LMFAO's chart hit Sexy And I Know It.
Tom and his team-mates filmed the video on a beach in Adelaide in south Australia. The eyebrow raising footage also features Plymouth's Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, Jack Laugher, Chris Mears, Nicolas Robinson-Baker and Max Brick, who stuck to the theme of the original video, with plenty of skimpy outfits and dancing.
After the Olympics, he had time to take a well-deserved break from competition to ride camels and sand-buggies in the Middle East.
And, as Herald reporter Tristan Nichols wrote, 2012 was the year when Tom Daley helped one five-year-old girl from Downderry take a leap of faith during her third diving lesson.
On a Saturday morning, Ruby Davidson pulled out of a diving lesson after becoming scared of the "dark water" at the Plymouth Life Centre diving pool. She started crying and told her mum and dad that she wanted to get changed and leave.
But Plymouth's diving stars Tom Daley, Brooke Graddon and Tonia Couch heard her crying and tried to comfort her.
"Ruby was walking out of the changing room crying and saying she didn't want to dive again when Tonia and Brooke followed her out," said Ruby's mum, Claire Davidson.
"They were so sweet. They walked over and asked Ruby what was wrong, and then Tom joined them.”
"They asked if she wanted them to go to her diving lesson with her and her face just lit up.”
"She didn't know who they were, but she was happy to have them beside her.”
"She stopped crying and just had this huge beaming smile on her face.”
"It was totally spontaneous and a really lovely thing to do.”
"The three of them have so much going on at the moment in the build up to the Olympics, it was just so sweet of them to take time out to comfort a little girl.".
"She didn't like how dark the water was and even Tom, Brooke and Tonia said it can be scary," Claire added.
"They spent about five or 10 minutes with her and held her hand when she was jumping in."
Claire, a 43-year-old teacher at Ridgeway School, said both her and her husband – and Ruby's dad – Mark were "blown away" by the gesture.
"Mark had tears in his eyes, we were both just really moved by what we saw," Claire said.
Following her lesson Ruby now said she wants to dive "all the time".
What have been your favourite moments and/or stories about Tom Daley this year? And what other people, organisations and buildings would you like to see us use for the 'A year in the life of series? Let us know in the comment field below.