“People do different things during competition. I’ve seen people using colouring books, playing games on their phone or listen to music or lay down. There’s something different for everyone to be able to get their escape and I’m grateful and lucky that I feel like I’ve found something that I enjoy to do.”
The 27-year-old’s Instagram account, madewithlovebytomdaley, is dedicated to knitting and crocheting and has amassed 1.1 million followers, where he recently unveiled the fruits of his labour: a Team GB cardigan.
With that completed, Daley revealed his latest project was to knit a dog jumper for a friend of his but he got sidetracked by a Games official on Friday who asked him to design an item of clothing for a stuffed toy.
“They had this little toy and said, ‘wouldn’t it be cute to have a little scarf for it?’. So I literally knitted the toy a scarf,” said Daley, who added that he taught himself to knit by watching YouTube tutorials.
“I didn’t have to count any stitches or do anything, it’s just something that’s so simple that it was literally just almost mind-numbingly boring. But I love knitting so I don’t find it boring. Row after row after row without having to count, that’s what I wanted to be able to do, the space I wanted to go into.”
Daley sat outside the top-18 qualification places after over-rotating on his first dive, a score of 56.1 from his reverse three and a half somersaults with tuck only good enough for 23rd spot at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
He gradually improved, moving up to 18th then 12th by the halfway stage with solid, if unspectacular dives, before an armstand back three somersaults with pike brought his best score of 94.5 and a place in the top six.
He finished strongly with his last two dives but British team-mate Noah Williams missed out on joining Daley in the next stage – the semis and final will both take place on Saturday – after finishing 27th.
Williams, competing in his first Games, disclosed he came close to hitting one of the boards with his fourth dive.
“That shook me up a bit because nearly hitting the board is never fun,” he said.