Forget about becoming Britain's first individual world diving champion, 15-year-old Tom Daley's toughest task on Tuesday was keeping his dad's emotions in check after the teenager won the 10m platform event in Rome with a near perfect dive.
AFP - Britain's 15-year-old Thomas Daley was a shock winner of the men's 10m platform event at the World Championships here on Tuesday.
Daley topped the points table with 539.85 ahead of Chinese pair Qiu Bo (532.20) and Zhou Luxin (530.55).
The Briton -- who finished seventh at last year's Olympics -- came into the last round in third place but both Qiu and Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham of Australia made a hash of their final dives to hand the gold medal to Daley.
He thus becomes Britain's first ever individual diving world champion.
"Today was never a day I thought I'd be world champion, to come away with the gold medal was just unthinkable this morning," he said before his father burst into the press conference room to give him a cuddle.
"How embarrassing," said Daley before adding: "I'm hoping to do the same thing again at the 2012 London Olympics.
"I was thinking I'd be happy with a top four or top eight finish."
Daley is believed to be the youngest ever male world diving champion although the International Swimming Federation (FINA) said they could not be sure due to controversies surrounding the age of Chinese athletes.
"I hadn't realised I was the youngest person to win gold, it hasn't sunk in yet," added Daley.
Going into the final round Daley appeared to be in a battle with Zhou for bronze while the gold looked likely to be decided between Mitcham and Qiu.
Things looked ominous for Daley as all three of his competitors had picked dives with a 3.8 difficulty rating whilst his was only a 3.4.
It meant if everyone nailed their dive, he could come away with nothing.
But in the end it was Daley who performed a near perfect dive while both Mitcham and Qiu cracked.
Qiu's dive was the worst but he went into the final round in the lead by 7pts from Mitcham and 13pts ahead of Daley.
Mitcham's was not much better but he agonisingly missed out on a medal by just one point, finishing on 529.50.
It was quite a turnaround for Mitcham who claimed an incredible gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year by producing the dive of his life on his final effort to overhaul Zhou.
Qiu's last dive jitters continued a worrying trend for China in this event. It was the only diving discipline they failed to win at both the last World Championships in Melbourne and at their home Games.
Qiu had topped the scorecards in both Monday's preliminary session and Tuesday morning's semi-final, being the only person over 500 points in both.
However despite leading after both his fourth and fifth dives, China's Achilles Heel struck again and he crumbled.
Date created : 2009-07-21