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'I feel very empowered': Diver Tom Daley discusses being openly gay after winning gold

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/27/2021 Emily Adams, USA TODAY
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Tom Daley and his diving partner, Matty Lee, brought home a gold medal for Team Great Britain Monday on the synchronized 10-meter platform dive, and the victory was especially meaningful for Daley in his second Olympics as an openly gay man.

Daley came out in a YouTube video in 2013 shortly after he began dating his now-husband, Dustin Lance Black. According to Outsports, there are 168 openly LGBTQ+ athletes competing at the Tokyo Games, which is triple the then-record total from the 2016 Olympics (56).

"I feel incredibly proud to say that I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion," Daley said via the Olympic News Service after winning gold. "I feel very empowered by that."

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The Tokyo Games are Daley's fourth Olympics and his first partnered with Matty Lee in the synchronized event. Daley became a sensation in Great Britain after he competed in his first Games, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when he was just 14 years old. He holds two prior bronze Olympic medals, one from the 10-meter platform dive in 2012 and one from the synchronized 10 meter in 2016.

Tom Daley eating a hot dog: Tom Daley of Team Great Britain poses with the gold medal during the medal presentation for the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26. © Clive Rose, Getty Images Tom Daley of Team Great Britain poses with the gold medal during the medal presentation for the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions on international visitors and fans, Daley had to leave his husband and 3-year-old son, Robbie, back home in the United Kingdom. Daley said the gold medal was particularly important to him because he wanted his son to see him compete, even if he could only watch on television.

“It's unbelievable, especially after Rio 2016, when I was extremely disappointed, because I thought that’d be my best chance of a medal," Daley said. "But my husband said my story doesn’t end there. He said our son was going to watch me become an Olympic champion, and there’s a whole lot of your chosen family out here to support you."

Daley and Lee came out on top after an intense showdown with China on the 10-meter platform. They posted a total score of 471.81, just 1.23 points ahead of the Chinese duo. Daley and Lee won the European and World Cup titles together earlier this year, and they add Great Britain's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the event to their list of accolades. 

Daley's journey in Tokyo is not finished yet. He will compete again Aug. 6 in the individual 10-meter platform dive, where he will face Cao Yuan, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and one half of the Chinese synchro pair that challenged Daley and Lee.

Contact Emily Adams at eaadams@gannett.com or on Twitter @eaadams6.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'I feel very empowered': Diver Tom Daley discusses being openly gay after winning gold

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