Tom Daley capped his greatest Olympic Games with a second medal at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, claiming a deserved bronze at the end of a breathtaking Men’s 10m Platform final.
Twelve days on from his historic 10m Synchro victory alongside Matty Lee, the Dive London athlete provided the latest in a long line of world-class performances to lead at halfway and finish on 548.25 points, comfortably enough for third place and seeing him finish only behind China’s Cao Yuan and Yang Jian, the latter of whom delivered the highest-scoring Olympic dive in history in round six.
Daley’s efforts, meanwhile, make him the first Brit in history to claim four Olympic medals less than a week after compatriot Jack Laugher had joined him on three, with the 27-year-old adding to 10m Platform bronze from London 2012, bronze with Dan Goodfellow in the 10m Synchro at Rio 2016 and that unforgettable synchro gold with Lee earlier in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Daley had struggled to perfect his opening Reverse 3 ½ Somersaults Tuck (307C) across the prelims and semi-final, doing enough to set him up for the rest of the list but failing to put down an early marker.
Here, in the Olympic final, the Plymouth-born man was immediately into contention with a stunning effort, securing a mammoth 98.60 points thanks to 9.5 and 10 verdicts from the judges.
That left him second in the standings after the opening dives – and things got even better by the end of round two, thanks to another superbly-executed routine from Daley. This one was an Inward 3 ½ Somersaults Tuck (407C), his lowest degree of difficulty for the competition. Still, a 91.20 was enough to leapfrog him to top of the leaderboard, ahead of the Chinese pair and Aleksandr Bondar of the Russian Olympic Committee.
Any question about whether this was Daley – who has worked with coach Jane Figueiredo since 2014 – again stepping up his performance when it matters most were emphatically answered in round three, as he delivered his Forward 3 ½ Somersaults 1 Twist Pike (5172B). A routine that brought him his lowest score of 54.00 in the morning’s semi-final was much better a few hours later, fine technique getting him through the dive before a solid entry provided him 91.80 points, just enough to keep him ahead of Cao Yuan in the race for the gold.
Such was the eye-opening quality of this final, a score of 80.50 in round four for an Armstand Back 3 Somersaults Tuck (626B) felt like a slight underperformance from the 27-year-old Brit, despite it keeping him firmly part of the medal conversation. It did see the duo from China move ahead of him at that stage.
Daley was back into the 90s in round five as the standard across the leading divers stayed at a level worthy of an Olympic final. A 3.7 degree of difficulty for the Forward 4 ½ Somersaults Tuck (109C) brought him 94.35 to strengthen his buffer inside the medal places, with Cao and Yang following suit in the gold and silver medal positions respectively.
Knowing what was on the line with his final dive, Daley’s composure and class came to the fore. Finishing, as ever, with a Back 3 ½ Somersaults Pike (207B), the three-time world champion tallied 91.80 to close on 548.25, nearly 34 points clear of Bondar in fourth.
Cao and Yang then served up show-stopping finales of their own to claim gold and silver for China – but there was no denying Daley a historic fourth Olympic medal at his fourth Games, further sealing his Team GB legacy.
And a double Tokyo medal success for Tom was something he admits felt more like a dream only a few short months ago.
"I honestly am so happy that this Olympics has gone the way it has. I feel like a different athlete, I feel like I’ve been through so many different things over the years and to finally get here is great. Back at the end of May, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to these Olympics, I tore my meniscus and had knee surgery. Of course I always dreamed I would get back up in time to be fit enough to dive at these Olympics, but if somebody had told me I’d win gold and bronze, I’d have probably laughed in their face," said Daley.
"I owe this to so many people. My coach, all my physios and support staff, and also of course Robbie and Lance and my mum and all my friends watching at home. Although I’m the one standing on the podium, there are so many people behind the athletes you see with these medals.
"The difficult thing with the individuals is you have a prelim and a semi-final to survive and get through to the final. Once you’re in the final, that’s what I love, I love competition when it counts. It was a great competition with the Chinese divers today, it was close all the way through but they pulled away after the fourth round when I missed it a little. Again, I’m so happy to come away with another Olympic medal."
Daley's delight means that the Team GB divers equalled their record tally of three medals from Rio 2016, while a historic haul in the swimming pool means Britain's aquatic athletes return from Tokyo with 11 medals overall, including five golds.