Entertainment, Sports

Tom Daley hopes his OBE will help him to promote inclusion and ‘create change’

Tom Daley is determined to use his OBE to promote inclusion after being recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Daley is being honoured for services to diving, LGBT+ rights and charity after ending his long wait for an elusive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in July.

Amid stiff competition from the Chinese pair of Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen, Daley and diving partner Matty Lee held their nerve to land first place in the men’s synchronised 10 metres platform, prevailing by just 1.23 points.

Tom Daley, right, and Matty Lee prevailed in the men's synchronised 10m platform (Adam Davy/PA)
Tom Daley, right, and Matty Lee prevailed in the men’s synchronised 10m platform in Tokyo (Adam Davy/PA)

Daley told the BBC: “I’m extremely proud to be honoured with an OBE and it feels like a responsibility to make the whole Commonwealth a better place for LGBT people, for women, for people of colour.

“In accepting this OBE, it’s now my responsibility to try and help create change, and help create this environment where anyone can be who they want, no matter where they came from.”

Daley’s win alongside Lee, who has been awarded an MBE, was all the more remarkable given Daley revealed just weeks earlier he had to undergo surgery on a torn meniscus.

But the 27-year-old from Plymouth struck a particular chord in the afterglow of victory when discussing his own journey and acceptance of himself, having come out in 2013.

Daley, who is married to screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, with whom he has a son, Robbie, added: “Accepting an OBE is one thing but accepting it and doing something with it [is another].

“I feel it’s really important to lift up all the people who feel like they’re outsiders and don’t fit in and feel like they have been ‘less than’ for so many years – to support them in being what they want to be.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Nine
Tom Daley knits in the stands during the women’s 3m springboard final at the Tokyo Olympics (Joe Giddens/PA Images).

Daley, who has not ruled out competing at Paris 2024 and could be enticed by the prospect of mixed or team events being put into the schedule, was among a record number of LGBT+ athletes in Japan.

Some of the competitors came in for offensive commentary from Russian state television and, while Daley feels accepted in Britain, he feels much more can be done to achieve acceptance worldwide.

“It’s come a long way,” Daley said after collecting bronze in the men’s 10m platform. “There’s still a lot further to go. There are 10 countries that are competing at these Olympic Games where being LGBT is punishable by death.

Tom Daley, left, finished second in the voting at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (David Davies/PA)
Tom Daley, left, finished second in the voting at the 2021 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (David Davies/PA)

“I feel extremely lucky to be representing Team GB, to be able to stand on the diving board as myself with a husband and a son and not worry about any ramifications.

“But I know that I’m very fortunate to have that and that there are lots of people who grow up around the world with less fortunate situations.”

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