Four-time British Olympian Tom Daley and his diving partner, Matty Lee, won a gold medal on July 26 in the men’s synchronized 10-meter diving competition at the 2020 Tokyo Games. But to Daley, who is openly gay, the win — his first Olympic gold — went beyond a first-place finish.
“I feel incredibly proud to say I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” Daley said in a press conference following his and Lee’s achievement. I feel very empowered by that.”
He had an inspiring message for LGBTQ fans who might be watching his success on the world stage.
“When I was younger, I always felt like the one that was alone and different and didn’t fit in and there was something about me that was always never going to be as good as what society wanted me to be,” he said. “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything. There is a whole lot of your chosen family out here ready to support you.”
You can watch the whole press conference below, as posted to BeanymanNews on YouTube.
The British diver came out in 2013 in a self-shot video posted to his YouTube account, saying he was dating a man. He ended up marrying that same man, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, in 2017. The two had a son together in 2018.
Daley, 27, was just 14 when he first competed in the Olympics at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. He won bronze medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Summer Games.
After Rio 2016, Daley said that his husband, Lance Black, encouraged him to continue with competitive diving and go for gold at the Tokyo games.
Daley and Lee, who you can see here diving on July 26, narrowly beat their Chinese competitors. This is Lee’s first trip to the Olympics.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics had more openly out athletes than any previous Olympic games with more than 160 LGBTQ athletes participating.
Gay Times correspondent Tom Knight tweeted that Daley’s gold medal, along with the athlete’s comments, would impact the larger LGBTQ community.
“I have so much love and respect for Tom Daley. This speech will reach every corner of the world, including the 70+ countries taking part in the Olympics where LGBTQ+ people are still criminalised. He deserves that medal and so much more,” Knight posted on Twitter.
I have so much love and respect for Tom Daley. This speech will reach every corner of the world, including the 70+ countries taking part in the Olympics where LGBTQ+ people are still criminalised. He deserves that medal and so much more 🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/9atkGSB1kp
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) July 26, 2021
Congratulations to Daley and Lee on their gold medal!