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Tom Daley mother defends son over 'Splash!': 'He's just having fun'

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Tom Daley's mother has defended the Olympian after a British swimming boss condemned his decision to appear in celebrity diving show Splash!.

The 18-year-old came under fire from the organisation's chief executive David Sparkes, who told the media that Daley should have waited until after his competitive career to enter television and accused him of "putting the cart before the horse".

Tom Daley, 'Splash!' for ITV

© ITV / Tony Ward / TwoFour Productions



In an open letter starting "since the media is your preferred method of communication, I thought that I should do the same", Debbie Daley responded to Sparkes's comments by claiming that her son is just "having some fun" on Splash! and trying to "help our sport long term" after intense training both before and after the Olympics.

"As far as I'm aware, Tom was one of the few major success stories for British swimming this summer... and possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job," the letter read.

"Others say that your performance was the worst of any CEO in British sport. Surely you should be thanking Tom and showing your support and gratitude?

"Splash! is an appropriate show for Tom. Yes, it can improve following the first show. However, a lot of grandparents, mums, teenagers and kids loved it.

Tom Daley mentors in ITV1's Splash

© ITV



"As you did not watch the show, I can tell you that it is a diving show and it promotes a key sport that is under your leadership... So you are worried about Tom's performances? Well, I am worried about yours. A leader should motivate his team, not make them think: 'Why do I bother?'"

Pointing out that British swimming had been promoting Splash! on Twitter despite Sparkes's apparent disapproval of the show, she continued: "We also believed that it would help our sport long term - there is not a lot of diving or swimming for that matter on television, David. That is meant to be your job.

"Tom, though, is just giving some advice and encouragement - and having some fun. I am glad that he is doing Splash! even though I don't like to read negative reviews of the show. Those opinions, I can handle. Yours I would like you to manage given your role within the sport and the impact that it is having on my son."

Tom Daley at the London 2012 Olympic Parade

© PA Images



Debbie added that the London 2012 medalist had been "offered opportunities left, right and centre" in the summer, but turned them down for training.

Referring to Daley's late father Robert, who died of brain cancer in May 2011, Debbie said: "He would be spitting mad if he had read your media attacks on [his son] over the past 12 months and would have given you a franker view than mine."

After the response was published, Daley wrote on Twitter: "My mum is AMAZING :D x."

Despite widespread critical panning, Splash! opened to a strong audience of 5.5m viewers on ITV1 last Saturday (January 5).

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