Tom Daley retains British title at Plymouth's Life Centre
TOM DALEY proved a class apart as the city star comfortably retained his national 10m platform title at the Life Centre yesterday.
Even struggling with a chest infection and without any real preparation for the British Gas Diving Championships, Daley finished the final more than 125 points clear of his nearest rival at his home pool.
Olympic medallist Daley's ambitions to start 2013 with a victory had never really been in doubt as he won the preliminary round by a margin of 150 points with a score of 502.50.
Daley was swiftly into his stride in the final, closing with a total of 501.00, with Leeds' excellent young diver James Denny (374.90) in both final and qualifying having to settle for second place.
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Daniel Goodfellow, of Cambridge, rumoured to be the next synchro partner for Daley, took bronze with 340.25 points.
Southampton's Pete Waterfield, Daley's synchro buddy at last summer's London Olympics, was withdrawn from the British championships by his coach.
Yesterday was all about Daley, though and he was never going to let down his fans.
The teenager had been given a rapturous welcome by the diving fraternity, who had packed the pool's spectator area eager for a glimpse of their local hero.
Daley doesn't do disappointment, even when clearly below par, and he was never going to do so as his beloved Plymouth was hosting a major sporting event at their £46.5million complex.
If this is Daley competing while off-colour, then heaven help his rivals – domestic and foreign – for the rest of the 2013 season.
While he didn't hit the heights of last summer when he scored 556.95 points to win a fantastic bronze in London, he was nonetheless very happy with his start to the season.
And even happier to have sent home his fans with a championship-winning set of results.
Daley said: "I've always said I'd compete no matter, particularly as the championships were being held in Plymouth.
"The fans were very supportive as they always are and I really appreciate that.
"I've had a throat and chest infection, which means I haven't trained properly but to win a gold medal and score over 500 points twice, was very pleasing.
"It was also nice to know that going into the last dive, I had won the title."
Daley added: "I haven't competed since last year at the World Junior Championships (in Australia) so it's a really good start to the year for me.
"There were one or two things I wasn't happy with today, but I'm still the champion which is really nice."
Daley said aside from the 'fantastic' home support, there was an added bonus to competing in Plymouth.
"It feels a bit weird, actually," said the former world champion and reigning European title holder.
"Normally when you're competing at a major competition, you leave the pool and go back to your hotel and sit around.
"But now I can go back home after competing and everything seems normal, so it's a little bit surreal in that sense.
"Yes, there was a lot more pressure on me than usual because it was at home, but you get used to it.
"My next competition is also in Plymouth in the Armada Cup in a couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to that."
Daley said winning the British crown has set him up well for the remainder of the year, while he also played down criticism his media work, notably the Splash! TV series, would overlap with his diving preparations.
"I've really enjoyed Splash! and it just goes to show how hard I've worked," said Daley.
"To go into the British Championships and win by more than 100 points, proves just how hard I've been working.
"My coach (Andy Banks) is also very pleased and like me, said there are things that could have gone better.
"But he's happy I got a 10 in the competition and very happy."
Daley added: "It's going to be a busy 2013, as I'll be joining the World Series in April, then it's the European Championships and the World Championships.
"It would be a challenge to get my world title back: it's going to be tough as there are some amazing divers out there."