Four years later he won individual 10m platform bronze in front of a home crowd at London 2012 and while Rio 2016 delivered a 10m synchro bronze alongside Dan Goodfellow, it promised so much more when he set an Olympic record in the preliminaries of the 10m platform. And yet he had difficulties 24 hours later, his fortunes flipping completely as he could only manage 18th in the semi-finals and failed to reach the final.
Since Rio, Daley has added another individual world title as well as European synchro gold this May with new partner Matty Lee (he also took individual silver at the same event, posting his highest ever score for an individual dive in the process). Away from the diving boards, he and husband Dustin Lance Black, the American screenwriter, have also become a father to son Robbie in June 2018.
His attention is now on Tokyo as he finally looks to complete the set of major international titles by getting his hands on an Olympic gold medal. He will be competing in both the 10m platform and 10m synchro.
When is the 10m platform?
Daley’s main event, the individual 10m platform, is the last event in the diving programme in Tokyo. Once again prelims take place 24 hours before the semi-finals and final.
The diving competition will be held at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Unlike in Rio (who remembers that green water?), the action will be inside.
Who are Daley’s 10m platform rivals?
As always, China will be the country to beat with 2019 world champion Yang Jian and silver medallist Yang Hao qualifying places (The last Olympics in which China did not finish as the world’s No. 1 diving team was in 1984!).
For America, David Dismore will hope to pick up the baton as his country’s leading diver after David Boudia, Olympic champion in 2012 and bronze medallist in 2016, failed to make selection.
The Russians are also ones to watch with Daley pushed into second at the recent European Championships by Aleksandr Bondar (although he will be competing under the ROC – Russian Olympic Committee – title due to Russia’s ban from international sport).
Closer to home and Daley’s team-mate Noah Williams will also be in action in the same individual event.
Where can I watch it?
Eurosport are the main European rights holders for broadcasting the Olympics this year although the BBC will still be covering the big moments across their channels. With Eurosport you will need a subscription. You can add it to your Sky, BT or Virgin contract or sign up to Eurosport Player for direct access.
Who are Team GB’s other diving medal hopefuls?
As a two-time Olympic medalist it is hard to look past 3m springboard diver Jack Laugher. He may have been off the boil at the recent European Championships in May with sixth place finishes in the individual and springboard but he has the experience and talent to pull himself back on track when it matters. More encouragingly, he and Goodfellow also won gold at the Tokyo test event earlier this year.
Daley and Lee are serious medal contenders in the synchro event while the women will have high hopes of landing a long over-due Olympic podium finish, with Commonwealth champion Grace Reid arriving at her second Olympics in the 3m events with Lois Toulson, girlfriend of Laugher, also making her second Games appearance in the 10m individual and synchro events.
There is plenty of young talent too, including Eden Cheng in the women’s 10m synchro and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, last year’s BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year winner.
Across the history of the modern Olympics, Great Britain have won a total of 10 Olympic medals, two bronze and silver by 1924 before two further bronze medals in 1960. However it would then be another 44 years before another podium finish, courtesy of Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor’s men’s synchro 10m platform silver in 2004.
The following Olympics would produce nothing but since then Britain have turned themselves into major medal contenders at international diving level with Daley’s London 2012 bronze the precursor for a record-breaking performance at Rio 2016, where Jack Laugher and Chris Mears were crowned Britain’s first ever Olympic diving champions. Laugher also won individual silver with Daley and Goodfellow taking bronze.