x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Tom Daley determined to make his late father proud

Tom Daley will take an emotional first step towards the defence of his world 10m platform title at the British Gas National Diving Championships, his first competitive appearance since the death of his father a fortnight ago.

Tom Daley will take an emotional first step towards the defence of his world 10m platform title at the British Gas National Diving Championships in Leeds this weekend.

Daley will make his first competitive appearance since the death of his father, Robert, who lost his long battle with brain cancer just two weeks ago.

The proximity of his loss has meant the 17 year old will only compete in his world-title winning event after he and synchro partner Peter Waterfield pulled out of today's team event.

"Preparations for the competition have been difficult over recent weeks, and the pair will now focus on next month's World Championships in Shanghai," a statement from British Swimming read.

"Waterfield and Daley are expected to compete in the 10m individual on Sunday."

The decision will allow Daley an extra day of preparation after he had only travelled to Leeds after attending his father's funeral on Wednesday.

Daley shared a close relationship with his father, who was a familiar figure at poolside during his son's career, and who had hoped to see him dive at next year's London Olympics.

After Wednesday's funeral, Daley pledged to maintain a focus on matters in the pool, writing on his Twitter page: "What a day! You are my biggest source of motivation dad! I will make you proud."

While he has had little time to prepare for this weekend's meets, he is still expected to qualify alongside Waterfield for the right to defend the world title he won in Rome two years ago.

But the veteran Waterfield will provide a stern test as the reigning national champion, after injury forced Daley out of last year's meet in Sheffield.

The 30-year-old also beat Daley at the National Cup in Southend earlier this year.

Daley has shown significant signs he is nearing his best after suffering a lull in form earlier this season as he developed a new list of more difficult dives ahead of next year's Olympics.

The teenager's improvement was highlighted when he claimed silver with his highest-ever score at the final Fina World Series event at Sheffield in April and, with qualification almost a certainty, his improvement will be a main focus of tomorrow's competition.

Elsewhere at the national titles, which began today, men's 3m synchro duo Nick Robinson-Baker and Ben Swain will look to re-establish their partnership after injury undermined their World Championships bid.

Swain missed the best part of a year with a knee injury and only returned to competitive action alongside Robinson-Baker at the Fina World Series event, where they finished last.

In the women's competition, teenager Alicia Blagg's growing reputation will be put to the test in her home pool.

The 14 year old is the reigning 1m springboard champion, but she will look to challenge 3m springboard title-holder Becky Gallantree at Leeds.