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'Tom Daley diving in Kournikova's footsteps'

Last updated on: February 25, 2012 08:06 IST

'Tom Daley diving in Kournikova's footsteps'

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Britain's Olympic poster boy Tom Daley is in danger of becoming diving's answer to former glamour girl of women's tennis Anna Kournikova, according to one of the team's top coaches.

The 17-year-old Daley became a household name when he was the youngest member of Britain's team in Beijing four years ago and expectations of a London gold soared when he became 10-metre platform world champion in 2009.

As the Olympic diving test event continues in London's aquatics centre this week, however, there have been suggestions his celebrity status and media activities may damage his hopes of taking on the Chinese favourites in August.


Image: Tom Daley


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'I am angry because nobody will listen to me'

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"It reminds me of the situation in Russia with Kournikova, Britain's performance director Alexei Evangulov, told British media.

"She looked pretty and made a promising start to her career but the media exposure meant she never got to be the best.

"She is still in the celebrity news but she never achieved her full potential. I am angry because nobody will listen to me."

Evangulov, a former Russian champion, described Daley as the "fifth best" diver in the world but still felt the teenager could manage a medal in London later this year if he concentrates on his time in the pool.


Image: Tom Daley


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'He can become a rock star'

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"If he stopped all his media work, I might be able to get him up to be third best diver," Evangulov said.

"Even some of the coaches are thinking a miracle can happen. But there are no miracles in professional sport.

"I don't mind what he does if he gets a medal. He can become a rock star."

Daley was under scrutiny this week at the World Cup event in London which is doubling as a tester of the wave-like venue that will host the Olympic swimming and diving.

On Thursday he and partner Peter Waterfield managed only seventh in the synchronised 10m platform event but Daley dismissed suggestions his commitments away from the diving pool were hindering his preparations.

Image: Tom Daley


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'I have been putting in all of the hours that I can'

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"In the 10m synchro it's China's to throw away in the Olympics... you know they are going to be up in the gold unless something goes wrong," he said.

"I know that I have been putting in all of the hours that I can, all of the training that we've been doing."

Apart from a senior world title, Daley does have something else over Kournikova, who was famous more for her looks than her results in the tennis grand slams.

Next week his waxwork will be unveiled in London's Madame Tussaud's, something the tennis player never achieved.

Image: Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield


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