GB colleague Aldridge says 14-year-old crumbled and “had a pop” at him
Schoolboy diver Tom Daley’s Olympic dream turned sour yesterday when the 14-year-old’s partner heaped blame on him for their last place finish.
The British pair, who had been expected to challenge for a medal in Beijing, came a hugely disappointing eighth in the 10m synchronised event, which was won by hosts China.
And Daley’s partner Blake Aldridge, 26, could not hide his bitterness after the defeat, accusing the youngster of verbal sniping and crumbling under pressure.
“He had a pop at me before the last dive,” said Aldridge. “I saw my mum in the audience and I asked her to give me a call and Tom went, ‘Why are you on the phone? We’re still in the competition and we’ve got another dive to do.’
“That’s just Thomas. He’s over-nervous and that’s how it was today. Thomas should not be worrying about what I’m doing, but today he was worrying about everyone and everything and that to me is really the sole reason why he didn’t perform today.
“I didn’t blow anything, so I can go home happy. Unfortunately it’s a partnership, you both have to be on the top of your game. I wasn’t on top of my game but Tom was nowhere near the top of his.”
Daley’s mentor and former Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor criticised Aldridge’s outburst.
“In the heat of the moment, people say funny things,” said Taylor. “Synchronised diving is a partnership and the last thing you need to be doing is apportioning blame.”
Devon teenager Daley, who has another medal chance in next week’s individual 10m platform dive, admitted feeling pressure.
He said: “We just had a bad day. I tried to not make it feel different but there was lots of pressure on me and I was very nervous.”
Daley, Britain’s youngest Olympian for almost 50 years, has attracted intense media attention in the runup to the Games. Expectations rose when Daley and Aldridge won the 10m synchronised title at May’s Fina Diving World Series.