30/07/2012 14:21 BST | Updated 31/07/2012 10:02 BST

Tom Daley And Peter Waterfield's Performance May Be Endemic Of Team GB's Olympics

The pristine Aquatics Centre, with its stifling yet welcoming scent of chlorine, hosted Team GB's poster boy on Monday. Tom Daley may be half of a two-man team, but Peter Waterfield could have been forgiven for feeling like Ernie Wise to Eric Morecambe - there only by necessity.

Upon emerging a countdown greeted the participants to the soundtrack of The Darkness' I Believe In A Thing Called Love. Released in 2003, Daley would have been 11 at the time, Waterfield would have been 22. Their diving would soon show as great a chasm as their age.

Sparse sections, although not uncommon at major sporting events, were a surprise for Daley and Waterfield's final. Yet the greeting for the pair (or the former?) resembled the ear-piercing shrills usually reserved for rock stars. While those who took their seats may not be well-versed with the execution and synchronisation of diving, their enthusiasm compensated for any lack of knowledge.

Decorum was impeccable too. Synchronised diving is a hypnotic and tense-fulled sport to witness in person as opposed to cynically watching on a television. And as the divers struck their pose before descending dozens of feet, the hush of anticipation only augmented the nerves in the stands.

Partisan crowds can often have a s(w)ay, and despite a vociferous American presence that echoed around the arena, initially they could not compete with the fervency of their hosts.

Daley, oft-accused of bathing in self-publicity and unsubtlety, lived off the good vibrations. He had already won the crowd before he disrobed to show off his Stella McCartney number, but his request for the decibel levels to be turned up after the first few dives were granted resoundingly.

That barnstorming start perhaps - in which he and Waterfield led at the halfway point - however gave way to complacency. Their disastrous fourth round dive, which saw them drop out of contention for a medal, was so catastrophic an execution that it was obvious even to the untrained eye.

And it did indeed signal the collapse of their medal hopes altogether. There would be no more cheerleading from Daley in a bid for extra support as he and Waterfield failed to start as they had finished. The imperious Chinese wowed the crowd while the American fervour had caught up with the now deflated Britons in attendance. The air, once of expectation, was now of resignation.

Pluckily the Brits made one final valiant effort but already the Chinese, Mexicans and United States had made waves they could not match, let alone supersede. As the podiums were wheeled in, Daley and Waterfield had left the building billed as that banal British cliché - the gallant loser.

In the mixed zone we had to wait longer for both to emerge. So willing were they to express their feelings that the Chinese, boasting their gold medals, had caught up with Daley and Waterfield by the time we swarmed around him.

Looks may have deceived the audience, but Daley's disappointment wasn't particularly palpable. Waterfield took the blame for the fourth round disaster and confessed he expressed his sorrow immediately after he and his team-mate emerged from the pool. He did look penitent, whereas Daley looked his usual chirpy self, passing on a message of good luck to a Cuban journalist seeking a reaction to one of their future participants.

Daley said afterwards "bring on individual" on Twitter, and perhaps that was the problem. Few knew before today and few will know after today the name of his partner, which may go some way to explaining just why the duo weren't in sync.

In Beijing Daley was, at 14, too raw to make a significant splash, but four years on he displayed the same contentedness in defeat. His father's death last year was extra sentimental weight on his shoulders, but his attitude after the loss will arouse the sceptics again who looked on in disdain when he turned up to Waterstones book signing wearing swimwear. Maybe he was overawed, but three days in Team GB's poster boy may have set a dangerous precedent. They shouldn't just be happy to be here.