Diving star Tom Daley: 'I'm trying to find out about my Irish roots'
HE was one of the faces of the London 2012 Olympics and famously wipes himself down between dives with a Union Jack towel but high dive superstar Tom Daley has revealed that he is currently exploring his Irish roots.
"I'm getting tests done! My Aunty Susie has Irish family through marraige but my dad's dad is a Daley and there's Deelys in our ancestry too so he reckons we have Irish roots and I'm trying to find out about them," said the British superstar in Dublin yesterday.
Daley was in Ireland to compete in the world-class Irish Open Diving Championships and duly thrilled the crowd in Abbotstown with a series of gravity-defying spins and twists.
And he gave the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin a firm vote of approval.
"This is not my first time in Ireland but it's my first time here and it's a great facility," he said. "It could definitely hold big international competitions like the European Championships.The boards are wide enough to do synchro on the 10 metre platform.
"It's great that Ireand is putting together a diving team and the more competitions like this that can happen the more the sport will be popularised," he said.
Daley (21) who competed in his first Olympics when he was just 14 and was World Champion when he was just 15, won individual bronze for Britain in the London Olympics and there is no danger of him switching allegiance no matter what his genealogical trawl turns up.
But one of his former British teammates - Ollie Dingley - has recently done just that and is now hoping to make Irish sporting history in Rio next summer.
The late Eddie Heron is the only Irish diver who ever competed in the Olympics.
That was back in 1948 and the talented Blackrock man actually only got to take part in the preliminaries before the Irish swim team was withdrawn due to a political row.
Now Dingley, a 2014 Commonwealth bronze medallist for Britain in the 3m springboard event, is hoping to be the second.
He has an Irish granny - from Spike Island in Cork - and having struggled for support in the British system he sat out international competition for a whole year in order to declare for Ireland this summer.
"I've always been very proud that my grandma was from Ireland and knew I could transfer," Dingley said yesterday.
"But it wasn't a decision I took lightly. I've left my family and girlfriend back in the UK to live and train here because I wanted to have a proper run at my dream. In Britain I felt just like a cog in a wheel but I already feel part of a real family here and Swim Ireland have been fantastic and really welcomed me."
His Olympic qualification hangs on finishing in the top 28 at a test event in Rio in February and Ireland's top female diver, Mt Anville schoolgirl Natasha McManus (17), will also carry Irish hopes at that after she impressed by finishing 10th in the European Games in Baku this year.
Dingley really believes he can qualify, despite just coming back from a three-month ankle injury and finishing second to Daley in the 3metre competition in Dublin gave him a huge boost.
"Up until two weeks ago I could not dive on my ankle. Obviously Tom is a platform specialist but I really pushed him hard and he only beat me by 15 points which was really encouraging," he said.