Words: Alastair James; pictures: Kit Oates
Tom Daley has spoken about homophobic abuse he’s received online in an extract from his upcoming book.
Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, Tom’s first memoir, documents his life from a young age to preparing for the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Tom, 27, won his first Olympic gold and another bronze medal in Tokyo, bringing his total to four medals and becoming the first Team GB diver to do so.
"A band of uplifting and friendly voices"
Discussing his use of social media in an extract published in i, the star said his platforms can, at times, “feel like a community, a band of uplifting and friendly voices," but they can also be places for “flinging homophobic comments or worse."
While he tries to ignore the negativity, occasionally things slip through the net, he says.
"After [Tom's former diving partner] Pete Waterfield and I didn’t get a medal in the synchro competition in 2012, I retweeted a message one troll sent me which read ‘you let your dad down I hope you know that,’” he recounts.
Things got worse after he shared the tweet with his followers who started defending Tom. The troll initially backtracked before allegedly telling one of Tom’s fans: “‘I’m going to find you and I’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky t**t you’re a nobody people like you make me sick.’”
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Tom also reveals that "after the Olympics in 2016, a Christian group tweeted me telling me the way that I lived my personal life was why Rio had not gone well. Some days, I had it from all angles."
The 27-year-old goes on to say that he now shares what he wants on social media and walks away. But he hopes by the time he and husband Dustin Lance Black's three-year-old son Robbie grows up things will have changed.
The key to using social media in a positive way, he says, is setting “firm boundaries.”
“I’ve learned to be very resilient in my sport and how to reframe failure and bad competitions, and to use positive self-talk," he said. "I have faced adversity many times and overcome it.
"[...] But being the subject of unwanted media and social media attention” is an area he has struggled to be as resilient in, although he has got better.
Coming Up for Air is available to buy and download now.
The Attitude Awards issue is out now.