Star British diver Tom Daley secured his first gold medal Monday and said not only is he proud to be an Olympic champion, but also an openly gay man.
“I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” Tom Daley, 27, said to news cameras streaming around the world after clinching the gold medal in the synchronized 10m platform alongside his diving partner Matty Lee.
“When I was younger I didn’t think I’d ever achieve anything because of who I was. To be an Olympic champion now just shows that you can achieve anything.”
Daley and Lee narrowly secured the top podium spot after beating out favorites Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen from Team China by a single point.
For Daley, who has now competed in four Games since his debut in Beijing at 14, the gold medal was a long time coming after two third-place wins in London and Rio.
He said Monday being an openly gay athlete has never been easy — but his victory proves anything is possible.
“In terms of out athletes, there are more openly out athletes at these Olympic Games than any Olympic Games previously. I came out in 2013 and when I was younger I always felt like the one that was alone and different and didn’t fit. There was something about me that was never going to be as good as what society wanted me to be,” Daley said following the win.
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“I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”
The Olympic Games, which has long been a venue for cultural exchange and exposure, was a symbolic stage for Daley to talk about life as an openly gay man, his marriage to film producer Dustin Lance Black and their 3-year-old son Robbie.
Sitting beside him were athletes from China and Russia, which placed second and third in the competition, and in front of him were news cameras from those locales — streaming his messages back to both countries where gay marriage is illegal.
“It’s been the most amazing, life-changing journey for me and I can’t wait to go and see them, my husband and my son, to give them a big hug and be able to celebrate on this incredible journey that it has been,” Daley said when a Chinese reporter asked about his home life.
He said he’s looking forward to a break now that he’s won big but shrugged off any thoughts about retirement.
“You want to win an Olympic gold medal but never think you actually will. I will carry on, but I will definitely take a break. There are some beverages with my name on it to celebrate with my husband and family,” he said.
“This means an incredible amount. All athletes put in such hard work and dedication into our performances. To be an Olympic champion after four attempts at it feels extremely special.”