Herald award 'feels amazing' for Daley
'AMAZING' was Tom Daley's reaction to being named The Herald Sports Personality of the Year 2012 at the gala presentation evening at the Pavilions.
The Olympic Games diving bronze medallist enthused about The Herald's annual showcase of city sporting talent being brought together 'for one night only'.
Daley even said The Herald judging panel had got it wrong and that swimmer Ruta Meilutyte should had been chosen over him.
The ever-generous Daley insisted his Lithuanian, fellow Plymouth College student's gold medal at the London Games out-ranked his achievement.
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But the 18-year-old was in a minority of one if the standing ovation he received, from the 450-plus guests and fellow athletes when his name was read out from the stage, is anything to go by.
The European champion and winner of the FINA world series in 2012 has now won the top Herald prize three times – in 2007, 2009 and now memorably in a London Olympic year.
He has had so many plaudits heaped on him during his incredible diving career from across the globe, but he made it clear The Herald Sports awards are very dear to his heart.
Daley told Herald Sport: "It feels amazing to win this award and be honoured by people in my home town.
"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported me.
"I really did mean it when I said that Ruta (Meilutyte) deserved to win this more than me.
"I know she won Young Sports Personality and I know that's a great honour, too.
"Yes, I won a bronze medal in London, which was great and a dream come true for me at a home Games.
"But at the end of the day, she is an Olympic champion and she helped inspire me to do what I did.
"She is someone I look up to."
Daley added: "It was a hotly-contended year with so many good athletes.
"The awards were packed with so many Olympians, record breaking athletes and internationals.
"I am just honoured to have been selected with so many others to choose from."
The 11th annual Herald gala celebration was an emotional night for Plymouth Diving's Daley, as it was the second staging of the event since the death from brain cancer of his number one fan and dad Rob.
The Rob Daley award, which debuted in 2011, is presented to an athlete who has overcome adversity to succeed in their chosen sport.
Last year it was Plymouth wheelchair athlete Matt Brewster, who took the prize and on Monday night it was Team Sky and Tour of Britain-winning rider Jon Tiernan-Locke.
The 27-year-old Plymothian received the award from the event's guest of honour – Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Jonathan Fox.
Former Coombe Dean student Tiernan-Locke had to overcome a debilitating illness and injuries before finally his self-belief, talent and hard work paid off in 2012.
Daley said: "The Rob Daley award is something I feel very strongly about.
"Firstly, it is in memory of my dad and the ethos of overcoming adversity is something he felt strongly about.
"He battled to the very end against his illness and he would have approved of the award and personal sacrifice that winning it entails .
"Dad drummed into me from an early age that you should do somebody a good turn every day of your life – whether it be holding the door open for somebody or giving someone some change because they haven't enough money to get on the bus.
"Just little things like that mattered a lot to him. They do to me, too."