Tom Daley fans wowed by star’s winning display

Tom Daley competing in the Diving World Series 2013. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Tom Daley competing in the Diving World Series 2013. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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DALEY-MANIA hit the Capital with hundreds of youngsters flocking to the Commonwealth Pool to catch a glimpse of their diving idol.

The 18-year-old Olympic star appeared before a sell-out crowd at the World Diving Series, a three day event playing host to teams from nine different countries.

Fans with a home-made banner get their message across. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Fans with a home-made banner get their message across. Picture: Ian Rutherford

It is the first major event to be hosted by the pool since its £37 million refurbishment.

Daley was the star attraction as he made his first competitive appearance since taking Olympic bronze in London last summer. And he didn’t let his army of worshippers down by winning gold in the World Series event with a stunning final dive.

Star-struck fans headed to the Capital to see the teen heartthrob – many carrying flags and home made banners displaying the words “Marry Me Tom”.

One fan wore a T-shirt with the words “Future Mrs Daley”.

As the pin-up patiently signed autographs while sitting at the pool side, posters of him were being snapped up in the pool’s foyer.

Fiona Scott, 52, from Marchmont, who works for the Open University, said: “There’s loads of young fans here today.

“I think pretty much everyone has come to see Tom Daley.

“Diving has definitely taken off in a big way since he came along.

“I come to the Commonwealth Pool a lot, so I’m used to seeing the swimming and the diving, but I think a lot more young people are now interested in it as a sport.”

The buzz around the star’s appearance attracted fans from all over the UK.

Michaela Reid, 16, and Kim Rennie, 17, had travelled from Aberdeen and brought with them a colourful banner complete with photographs of Daley.

High school pupil Michaela said: “Tom’s definitely for us the main attraction – he’s gorgeous!

“We’re really hoping we’re going to get a chance to speak to him.

“It took us two hours to put this banner together!”

Kim said: “I think I would actually break down in tears if I got the chance to speak to him.

“He’s just such an amazing guy.

“The other divers here today have also been great to watch.

“I’m a lifeguard and a swimming teacher so that’s what got me interested in diving.”

The crowd broke into rapturous applause at the mention of Daley’s name.

Students Caitlyn Middleton, 20, and Hannah Kane, 20, had come up from the Midlands. Caitlyn said: “The highlight for us will be watching Tom.

“We really got in to diving after watching him compete in the Olympics – this is the first time we’ve been to a diving competition.”

Daley was only 15 when he first made headlines at the Beijing Olympics as Britain’s youngest ever competitor.

Since then he has been credited with a surge in popularity in diving as a sport, with Edinburgh Diving Club now having more than 500 members.

He is also the presenter of TV celebrity diving programme – Splash – which is to return for a second series.

Ahead of the contest, Daley said he believed a return to competitive action had been a boost to his motivation.

He said: “Definitely this is what I needed.”