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Daley driven by China rivalry

By Sun Xiaochen in Sanya, Hainan province | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-04 07:56

Daley driven by China rivalry

Thomas Daley of Britain gives a speech after receiving the trophy of FINA Best Male Diver 2017 during the FINA World Aquatics Gala in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, Dec 2, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Winning the best diver award on the doorstep of his mighty Chinese opponents has motivated Tom Daley to work harder than ever for an Olympic breakthrough.

Daley has led the rest of the world's charge against China's dominance for years, upsetting his rivals in a number of major events - and he did it again at the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Gala in Sanya on Saturday.

The Briton, who won the 10m platform at the Budapest world championships in July, was named the 2017 Best Male Diver at a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese diving greats, including the retired Guo Jingjing, five-time Olympic gold medalist Wu Minxia and last year's men's 10m Olympic champion Chen Aisen, who lost to Daley in Budapest.

And Daley, 23, admitted collecting the award here was extra special.

"It's a massive honor to be recognized by FINA and all the male divers in the world, especially here in China where diving is so beloved," said Daley, who also won a silver in the mixed 3m synchro with Grace Reid in Budapest.

"It's so nice to be here in a country where diving is a big sport. China is a country so supportive of diving. It's so great to bring home a trophy from here."

Born in the southern English coastal city of Plymouth, Daley began diving aged seven after his talent was spotted by a local club.

As a 14-year-old, he emerged on the world stage as Britain's youngest competitor at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before shooting to superstardom in the UK by winning a bronze medal at London 2012.

However, at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Daley suffered a major blow as he crashed out in the semifinals after placing first in the preliminary round.

"I wanted vengeance because after the Olympics I was disappointed," Daley said of his motivation to come back strong this year.

"So I worked really hard and I was really happy to come away with the gold medal (in Hungary)."

Out of the pool, things are also going swimmingly for Daley. In May, he married Dustin Lance Black, an American screenwriter and film producer, having announced he was in a same-sex relationship in 2013.

Black accompanied Daley in Sanya, with the happy couple receiving a warm welcome from fans. From now on, though, the focus for Daley is the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"Looking forward, I just want to work as hard as I possibly can to come to the point where in 2020 I am still in peak condition," he said.

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