London 2012: Tom Daley backed to sail through media whirlwind
Leon Taylor believes Tom Daley will not be worried about recent talk about his media commitments as he is totally focused
Tom Daley has been backed to rebound from his recent bad press by his diving mentor Leon Taylor.
British Diving’s performance director Alexei Evangulov caused a stir when he accused his young charge of spending too much time on commercial and media commitments, comparing him to tennis pin-up Anna Kournikova, whose success on the court never matched her profile off it, and adding Chinese rivals worked “three times harder”.
Taylor, who combined with Daley’s current synchro partner Peter Waterfield to win Olympic silver in Athens, has worked with the 17-year old as a mentor since his early teens and the pair have forged a close personal bond.
And he believes the negative headlines will have no impact on one of Team GB’s most popular and high-profile athletes.
“He’s not looking back, he’s looking forwards and that’s a good strategy isn’t it?” said Taylor, who was speaking at the Glasgow launch of Bank of Scotland’s Local Heroes initiative, which provides £1,000 of funding to 82 budding Olympians and Paralympians across Scotland.
“I was with him this weekend and I had a really good chat with him – his eyes are on the prize.
“He’s fine, absolutely fine. He takes whatever life throws at him in his stride and that’s why he’s the exceptional character that he is.
“You can’t control what your national performance director says but what you can control is what you are focusing on and Tom is a very focused individual.”
But Taylor refused to criticise Evangulov’s comments and claimed Daley, who placed a disappointing seventh with Waterfield at the recent Olympic test event, was starting to hit form ahead of forthcoming Diving World Series meetings.
“There is no point in fuelling something, it’s not professional or helpful,” he added.
“My only priority is to support Tom and when I saw him at the weekend he looked really, really sharp.
“He had that thumb injury just prior to the test event, which obviously hampered his preparation. Tom said it’s funny really, it’s a week too late but his dives are rocking’ and rollin’ at the moment.
“This whole media whirlwind will be easily forgotten the next time Tom is out there competing well and that’s what he’s looking forward to.”