At last night’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, Tom Daley gave a moving speech surrounding his father and what it means to be a gay athlete. Despite narrowly losing out on the award to tennis star Emma Raducanu, Daly’s comments certainly stole the show.
He reflected on his relationship with his father, Robert, who passed away in 2011 from a brain tumour, remembering him as the diver’s “biggest cheerleader”. He continued by saying, “My dad would take me to every training session, every competition with that giant British flag.”
Second place at BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2021 goes to…
? TOM DALEY ?#SPOTY
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 19, 2021
Tom Daley won his first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 games, and in last night’s speech he mourned the fact his father wasn’t there to witness it. “After all those years, he never got to see me win an Olympic medal,” he said.
“I’m so sad he didn’t see me win Olympic gold, I think he would be so proud. I knew that I could win it, but I’d almost settled with the fact that it was never going to be me.”
Sport is for everyone ❤
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 20, 2021
Despite feeling the loss of his father, Daley expressed his gratitude for having his husband and son cheering him on as he won the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event with Matty Lee.
“I’m married, I have a kid who’s three-and-a-half, […] I’m a gay man that was able to compete at an Olympic Games and feel comfortable in myself to be able to do that.
“There are so many people around the world that aren’t comfortable enough to be able to do that, and there are so many people that are growing up in countries that need our help and need our support to be their true authentic selves,” he added.
“It’s important that we make sport accessible and inclusive for everyone and that everyone has a space.”
Daley has long been a role model for queer people in sport and has been very vocal about his stance when it comes to anti-LGBTQ+ countries competing at and hosting the Olympics. The diver stated earlier this year that it is his “mission” to ban nations where gay people face death penalties from the 2024 Paris Games. He also criticised organisers of the FIFA World Cup for allowing the tournament to be held in Qatar where the death penalty is a legal possibility for queer people.
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