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Commonwealth Games 2010: Tom Daley's Delhi test

2010 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Venue: Delhi, India Dates: 3-14 October 2010 Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage across BBC TV, radio, online, BBC Red Button, mobile and BBC iPlayer services. Find full coverage details here. And a full schedule of events here.

England diver Tom Daley
Daley will undergo a stiffer examination in his events

By Leon Taylor
Double Commonwealth Games medallist & BBC commentator in Delhi


For divers, the Commonwealth Games is right up there as one of the top competitions in the world calendar.

We have already seen two days of competition, with some new names on display from the home nations, pitting themselves against the might of Australia and Canada - two of the world's best diving nations, behind China.

And there are two days to go, when I expect Tom Daley to be among the medals for England, although which colour he will win in each of his events remains to be seen.

The action began in Delhi with an agonising fourth-place finish for England on Sunday, when I believe Rebecca Gallantree and Alicia Blagg were robbed of a bronze medal by judging.

They were really close to a podium spot and didn't get marks they deserved, which is frustrating, but you have to accept that in all subjective sports which rely on judges.

Commonwealth Games will be tough - Daley

Alicia, from Leeds, is just 13 years old and a superstar of the future. An event like this is where she will gain that all-important experience that will help her step up to greater things.

Seventeen-year-old Oliver Dingley told me after Sunday's 1m springboard: "I stood in the line-up with my heroes - Alexandre Despatie and Matthew Mitcham.

"Two years ago I was chasing them for autographs and now I'm alongside them - that's made me even more determined."

Despatie, Canada's most decorated Commonwealth Games athlete, defended his title in that event on Sunday and did so in another on Monday from the 3m springboard.

He looks likely to win a ninth Commonwealth gold on Tuesday in the 3m synchro, partnered by individual silver medallist Reuben Ross.

Behind those two was experienced Englishman Nick Robinson-Baker and Jack Laugher, the 15-year-old from Yorkshire who won a world junior title earlier this month.

For this competition he has taken a step back - intelligently so - to give himself more breathing space

Laugher set a new personal best in the 3m springboard preliminaries, breaking the magic 400 mark and holding his own against the world's best.

He was a little shaky in the final but this event is all about learning to deal with the pressure of a big occasion.

Tom Daley is in action on Tuesday in the 10m synchro, with partner Max Brick, then in the individual event the following day.

Their partnership and exciting one, although they are still training as a trio with Pete Waterfield - who decided not to come to India for safety reasons - and interchanging regularly to find out which pairing is most effective.

But "TD" is below his best, still hampered by the triceps injury he suffered during the European Championships in August, which has affected both his preparation and performance.

And he will be up against Australian Mitcham, the Olympic champion, who is an amazing diver: fit, on form and at the top of his game.

It has been a long summer for Tom, including a trip to the Europeans - where injury stopped him competing - the Youth Olympics in Singapore and the Junior Worlds in Arizona, plus a decent performance in his GCSE exams.

Even if he had been fit it would have been a long summer. This experience has been frustrating and challenging but also good for him because it's real life - he will get injuries during his career and have to deal with them.

In the two years since the Olympics he has been upping the "difficulty factor" of his dives and the ones he was aiming to do this year are as difficult as it gets. With that comes a high risk of injury.

For this competition he has taken a step back, intelligently so, to give himself more breathing space. Instead of using four new dives - as he did in winning the world title in Rome last year - he is just doing two.

He is just happy to be able to compete. He is here with a smile on his face and he will do his best.

Leon Taylor was speaking to BBC Sport's Martin Gough



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see also
Daley back injury 'not serious'
23 Jun 10 |  Diving
Hat-trick for Tom?
08 Oct 10 |  Student reports
Tom Daley heads Youth Team GB
05 Aug 10 |  Sport
Daley closing in on peak fitness
23 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games


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