Aquatics / Olympics

Daley overcomes shaky start to ease into Olympic semi-finals

NEWLY-crowned Olympic 10m synchro champion Tom Daley safely booked his place in the semi-finals of the individual platform event in Tokyo on Friday morning.

Daley finished fourth in a long, drawn-out preliminary competition after recovering from a shaky start.

The former world champion was only 23rd after round one after only scoring 56.10 points for his opening reverse three-and-a-half somersaults in tuck dive.

His second and third round dives were also below par, scoring 68.80 and 64.80 points, but then he showed his class in the final three rounds with two dives bagging more than 90 points to finish on 453.70 points.

At the last Olympic Games, Daley set a new Olympic record to top the preliminary standings but then went out at the semi-final stage.

“Overall, I’m happy to have qualified,” said Daley. “I learned from Rio that you can win a prelim but you have to be able to consistently survive through the rounds where it actually counts.

“The first dive wasn’t great, but I’ve been feeling really good out there. I’m moving really well, the height of my dives is really good, I’m making everything really easily. I just need to make those micro adjustments now.

“When you haven’t competed for a while and then suddenly you’re at an Olympic Games, there’s quite a lot of adrenaline.  So, it’s about being able to actually handle that. Once I got into the swing of it, it felt good to be out there and I’ve been having a lot of fun.”

Much attention has been made of Daley knitting between his dives. He took up the hobby during the first lockdown and he believes it has helped him with his diving.

“I think the knitting has made a massive difference,” he said.” There’s a long wait between the synchro and individual competitions and a long time to think – and my time to think has been replaced with knitting. It’s been such a great distraction for me to be mindful, but also resting.

“I was knitting my Team GB cardigan earlier to hopefully raise some money for the Brain Tumour Charity at the same time. It’s something I wanted to do as a little memento of my time here in Tokyo. In between rounds today, I was knitting as it allows you to come out of it (the diving) for a little while, to be able to do that and then go back into the diving helped a lot.”

However, there was disappointment for fellow GB diver Noah Williams, who surprisingly failed to qualify for the semi-final. Williams, who got the nod to compete over Plymouth’s Matthew Dixon, finished 27th with 309.55 points.

Daley will dive in the semi-final in the early hours of Saturday morning (2am BST), with the final taking place five hours later.

Meanwhile, former Plymouth Marjon Hockey Club player Giselle Ansley helped Great Britain win a bronze medal on Friday morning. They beat India 4-3 in the bronze medal match.

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