Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 14:05 UK

Homecoming parade for diver Daley


Fifteen-year-old Tom became world diving champion in Rome

Thousands of people have turned out in Plymouth to welcome home diver Tom Daley after he won a gold medal at the World Diving Championships in Rome.

A civic reception was laid on for the 15-year-old, followed by an open top bus tour along the city's Royal Parade.

Afterwards Tom met the Lord Mayor at the BBC Big Screen and was interviewed by Blue Peter presenter Joel Defries for the TV show's series in the autumn.

Highlights of Tom's performance in Rome were also shown on the Big Screen.

Phil Tuckett, BBC Sport South West

Just as in Rome last week, the sun shone in Plymouth as Tom Daley was officially welcomed back to the city.

Once the 15-year-old star had done his bit with the local and national press, he boarded an old Leyland bus aptly named after another of Plymouth's famous sons, Sir Francis Drake.

Along Royal Parade thousands of fans both young and old lined the pavement eager for a view of their hero.

Cheers, whistles and the odd horn sounded through the waiting crowd as Tom's every wave and smile was responded to with vigour.

Young girls professed their love for the local boy who now is not only a world champion but a national heart throb as well.

Tom, who showed his gold medal to the crowds, won the 10m diving category at the world championships.

Upon Tom's arrival at the Big Screen, raucous applause filled the piazza.

To honour his achievements, he was presented with a gold Blue Peter badge by Joel Defries.

Only a select band of people have ever received a gold Blue Peter badge - the Queen is one of them.

Jenny Crib, a 16-year-old from Plymouth who had gone to welcome Tom home, described him as an "inspiration".

"His achievements have made the whole city proud," she said.

"He has come from nowhere really and young people want to be like him - he's an inspiration."

On taking to the stage, Tom thanked everyone for their support and belying his tender age, described his medal as a "good bit of a bling".

Dreams realised

Speaking earlier to the BBC, he said: "It's kind of crazy to think that all my dreams have come true at the age of 15 because I wanted to become the best in the world later on in my career but for it to happen so soon has been crazy.

Tom Daley realises he has won World Championship gold
Tom Daley realises he has won World Championship gold

"I wouldn't change my life although I've had to put in a lot of hard work since I was seven-years-old, and since I was 10 I was training full time. I enjoy doing what I do - it's something that I love."

Vivien Pengelly, leader of Plymouth City Council, said the city was "proud" of Tom.

"To become world champion at the age of 15 is an incredible achievement and we wanted to do something as a city to recognise that," she said.

"He is a wonderful ambassador not only for his sport and young people, but also for the city."

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