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'TV Show Splash! Is Good For My Son.' Tom Daley's Mum Hits Back At Critics

14/08/2014 16:46 | Updated 22 May 2015
'TV show Splash! is good for my son' Tom Daley's mum goes on the attack after critics slate his reality telly role

The mum of Olympic diver Tom Daley has leapt to her son's defence after he was criticised for appearing on the widely-slated reality TV show, Splash!

British Swimming bosses said this week that bronze medallist Tom was wrong to appear on the Saturday night show on ITV in which various celebrities belly-flop into a swimming pool under Tom's tutelage.

British Swimming chief David Sparkes said he was concerned Tom was not paying enough attention to his diving career by appearing on television and was in danger of failing to fulfil his talent.

But in an open letter to Mr Sparkes in today's Daily Mail, Tom's mother hit back at her 18-year-old son's critics and spoke abut her pride for him.

She wrote: "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.

"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. 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."

Debbie went on to describe the enormous pressure of expectation on Tom's young shoulders – especially as he'd lost his biggest supporter: his dad, Rob, who died of cancer, aged 40, in May 2011.

Debbie wrote: "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."

Referring to comparisons made between Tom and the gold-winning Chinese divers, Debbie said: "The Chinese comparisons really annoy me - and I know that they annoy Tom. He was not born in Beijing.

"He was born in Plymouth. I saw a documentary a few years ago which showed the Chinese boot-camp style of training in sport. This is not Tom. He would not function if his life was just diving.

"He is very bright, works incredibly hard and over the last 10 years has given up so much to focus on his 2012 Olympic goal. I know that he will do the same for 2016. However, Tom is never going to lead a lifestyle similar to a Chinese diver.

"I am sure that he will always be the best he can be in his sport."

And in a final attack, Debbie added of the show which pulled in 5.5 million viewers: "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.

"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.

"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."

And the moral of this saga? Don't mess with a boy's mother!

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