One of the ten sportsmen and women shortlisted for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Tom Daley, the world 10-metre platform diving champion, has been hailed as a diving prodigy from an early age. But the consensus of a group of experts at The Cap in Hand pub in Chessington was that this shouldn’t be confused with being the world’s best at something people actually care about.
While the group conceded that his performances did indeed require skill and dedication, the fact that so few people ever had a go at 10-metre platform diving, let alone tried hard at it, meant that it was unlikely the 16-year-old Daley would really be the world’s number one if everyone else had to try their best. What it really meant, then, was that Daley was the world number one at bothering to try hard at diving.
‘Most swimming pools won’t actually let you dive in, so none of us has tried properly’, commented group spokesman Tony Newman. ‘Nevertheless I’m confident that any one of us could probably be diving prodigies if we wanted to be. But even if we did have a go and found out we were good at it, how likely would we be to carry on with it if we were any good at a proper sport where we could have a laugh with our mates and get some real money and respect if we got good at it?’
The group estimated that there were probably only about 50 people who took 10-metre platform diving seriously enough to enter competitions in Britain, and no more than a couple of thousand active divers globally, which meant that being world number one in 10-metre platform diving was like being in the top thousand at Angry Birds or the best at snooker in Kingston.
‘And at the end of the day it’s just falling into water, isn’t it?’ added Newman. ‘Falling into water and trying not to make a massive splash.’
The group acknowledged that the same objections could be raised about pretty Olympic skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams, also in the running for Sports Personality of the Year, but that because the extremely attractive athlete was also really good at running and darts, it was different.