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Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Wednesday, 21 July 2010 14:26 UK
Portrait of Plymouth diver Tom Daley goes on show
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Click here to see Bettina von Zwehl's portrait of Tom Daley

A portrait of Plymouth diving sensation Tom Daley on his favourite Devon beach has gone on show at one of the country's top art galleries.

It is part of a series of striking new photographic portraits of athletes, politicians and engineers.

The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project showcases top sport stars and Olympic powerbrokers, including 16-year-old Tom.

The first 30 photographs were unveiled on Tuesday 20 July 2010.

They are the first from a total of 100 commissions which will be displayed at the gallery each summer over the next three years.

Tom appears alongside heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Olympic cycle champion Jason Kenny, double Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington and former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

They all outlined their key motivations towards success at the London 2012 Games, and Tom named people who inspire him.

Tom Daley diving - Getty Images
Tom in a more familiar pose, diving to his world title in 2009

"There have been lots of inspirational people in my life," said Tom, who is currently preparing for the European Diving Championships in Hungary.

"People like the Olympic greats like Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Olympic heroes.

"I'm really looking forward to the European Championship because I'm going in as reigning champion so I've got to try and defend my title," said Tom.

"I'm looking forward to showcasing some of my new dives."

He has had problems with a back injury but says it is all "completely back to normal".

"I've missed a lot of training and the National Championships but I've got to try to get around that and just work as hard as I can and try and dive the best I can."

His portrait was taken Bettina von Zwehl at Bovisand beach on 7 June 2010.

The location was suggested by Tom's father Rob as it is Tom's favourite beach.

Studying for A levels

Tom became the UK's first individual world diving champion after winning the 10m platform event at the World Championships in 2009.

Encouraged to swim when he was three-years-old by his father, he started diving at the age of seven.

He was the national under-18 champion at 10 and became the youngest ever senior European Champion in 2008.

UK Aquatics selected him to represent Team GB at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games when he was 14.

He is currently studying for his A levels at Plymouth College and, naturally, says his ambition is to win a gold medal in front of a home crowd in 2012.

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