Tom Daley's mum defends his media career and criticises sport chief
Tom Daley's mother has defended her Olympic diver son's media career in an open letter to the head of British Swimming carried today by The Mail.
Earlier this week the chief executive said Tom Daley should concentrate on his sport - not his media career such as new ITV show Splash!
Now Debbie Daley has hit back at Mr Sparkes in an open letter.
She wrote -
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Dear Mr Sparkes,
We last spoke at Loughborough in June 2011 after you asked for Tom to do a favour for you and open a sports park at Loughborough.
As Tom's mum, I take a lot of pride in the way he handles himself. I am sure that he will make mistakes along the way, but to date he is doing a lot right. I find it incredible that you want to criticise him so publicly, when he does so much for your organisation and for sport in the UK - and worse, you do it by giving your opinion without any thought. You did not speak to Tom - or his agent - first. Is this a good way for a CEO to operate?
As far as I'm aware, Tom was one of the few major success stories for British Swimming this summer... and possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job. Others say that your performance was the worst of any CEO in British sport. Surely you should be thanking Tom and showing your support and gratitude?
His target was to achieve a medal and he delivered, becoming the first British individual diver in 52 years to get an Olympic medal. Not only this, but immediately after the Games, when most athletes were enjoying themselves, Tom went back to intense training for five weeks to prepare for the Junior World Championships.
Perhaps you need to be reminded that not only was Tom taking on the pressures of the biggest sporting event in his life, not to mention a home Games, but during this period he also lost his biggest supporter, his dad.
My bond with my son has always been strong but Rob was Tom's rock, friend and role model; he would be spitting mad if he had read your media attacks on him over the past 12 months and would have given you a franker view than mine.
Had you been kept up to date you would know that we all agreed to keep Tom's commercial days to a minimum and ensured no training was missed in the two years prior to the Games unless approved by everybody.
The irony is that while all Tom's sponsors respected this and used no days in the months leading up to the Games, the only request that was not originally approved came from British Swimming. Funny how things change when it suits British Swimming!
It's also baffling that you openly criticise Tom when you yourself have called in special favours for Tom to make appearances (such as that eight-hour trip to Loughborough in 2011 when I last saw you).
I am sure that he will always be the best he can be in his sport. Splash! is an appropriate show for Tom. Yes, it can improve following the first show. However, a lot of grandparents, mums, teenagers and kids loved it.
As you did not watch the show, I can tell you that it is a diving show and it promotes a key sport that is under your leadership.
You told Tom's agent on Monday that it would do nothing to help the sport in the UK. How ironic to see that your marketing department has today promoted watching Splash! on Twitter to British Swimming's followers. So you are worried about Tom's performances? Well, I am worried about yours.
A leader should motivate his team, not make them think: 'Why do I bother?' Did you speak out to protect your UK Sport funding and be seen to do the right thing for them? Well, if UK Sport want to demotivate the key person in a sport, carry on David. Good work.
While you may want Tom to do more training, I would like you to do leadership, media and motivation courses. Tom may benefit from some UK Sport funding but he has to fund his own life from sponsorship and media work. When the Splash! opportunity came to us, it was a completely appropriate one for him and we also believed that it would help our sport long term - there is not a lot of diving or swimming for that matter on television, David. That is meant to be your job.
Tom, though, is just giving some advice and encouragement - and having some fun. I am glad that he is doing Splash! even though I don't like to read negative reviews of the show. Those opinions, though, I can handle. Yours I would like you to manage given your role within the sport and the impact that it is having on my son.