Star Tom Daley taunted by playground bullies
CITY diving star Tom Daley's life has been made so miserable by bullying that his parents are considering changing his school.
The 14-year-old diving superstar has said his life has been made a misery at Eggbuckland Community College, through the constant jibes and "childish name-calling and antics" of his fellow students.
The comments have affected him so much that his dad, Rob Daley, said he had been to the school twice over the past six weeks to try to get the bullying stopped.
Mr Daley said he saw Eggbuckland principal Katrina Borowski earlier this week – and he said she claimed she had been unaware there had been any bullying.
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But, in a statement today, she admitted that Tom's "extremely high profile has led to a minority of students acting in an immature way towards him".
She also said that "certain students have been sanctioned" as a result.
Rob Daley admitted today that he has kept his son off school this week. He said it was mainly because he didn't want the young diver to be further upset before he flies off to Florida for next month's diving grand prix event at Fort Lauderdale.
Mr Daley also said he had kept Tom away from school for two days before the Easter break because he felt the bullying might affect his son's form at the FINA World Series in Sheffield.
Against the best divers in the world – including Olympic champion, Matthew Mitcham, of Australia – Daley won a silver and was less than a point away from claiming gold.
Rob Daley said: "I've been to see Tom's head of year and also the principal in the past six weeks, because Tom has been so upset.
"Although Tom hadn't said anything, I could tell by his sombre mood when he came home from school over the past few months that something was wrong. Although they cannot be held responsible for the students, I do think the school should be more proactive in trying to sort this bullying out.
"We wouldn't want to have to do it, but we will change schools unless this is sorted out, as my son's well-being comes before everything else."
Tom Daley, who lives in Crownhill, said the bullying had first started to gain momentum following his appearance at last year's Olympic Games in Beijing. He had hoped by ignoring the taunts and "letting them go over my head", the pupils would give up.
But, if anything, said Tom, the provocations have got increasingly worse since the turn of the year – and have escalated from name calling to actually throwing things at him.
Daley insisted all he has ever wanted is to lead a normal life but, because of his fame, he said, it is becoming impossible at Eggbuckland.
He said: "I'd always ignored the 'diver boy' or 'Speedo boy' comments when I came back from Beijing last year, hoping they'd get fed up and stop. The trouble is they haven't, and it's even the younger kids who are joining in.
"It's getting to the stage now where I think 'oh, to hell with it. I don't want to go back to school'. And that is something I don't want to do, as I'm not intimidated by the pests – just really cheesed off."
Principal Katrina Borowski said, in a statement: "Needless to say, it would be incorrect for me to specifically discuss the private matters of one of our students.
"However, what I can say is that Tom's extremely high profile has led to a minority of students acting in an immature way towards him.
"Meetings have been held between college staff, parents and Tom's friends in which appropriate strategies were discussed. Certain students have been sanctioned.
"We take the well-being of students extremely seriously and have a very clear policy for dealing swiftly and firmly with any incidents of conflict that arise. This involves working in close partnership with parents and other agencies where appropriate."
The Herald talks to Olympic diving star Tom Daley. Filmed March 29, 2008.
Tom Daley is teamed up with Vivienne Westwood as Team Visa brings together top athletes with top designers. Filmed June 16, 2008.
The Herald's Dominic Jeff joins a diving lesson with Tom Daley's coach, Andy Banks, and jumps off the 10 metre board. Filmed September 6, 2008.