He’s won bronze at the London Olympics, two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and been named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year a record-breaking three times – all before the age of 20 – but champion diver Tom Daley is only getting started. Before he embarks on the road to Rio, he took a much-needed break at SeaWorld Orlando to brave new adrenaline-pumping rides Falcon’s Fury in Busch Gardens and Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. We caught up with him to find out more.
Are you a big theme park fan?
I always have great fun whenever I go to Florida. I’ve been five times but the rides never seem to get old for me. I went with my family after Beijing and I have got so many amazing memories like doing a few dives for the audience at the Blue Horizons show at SeaWorld in Orlando. Each park is so different. SeaWorld has the most amazing shows, Discovery Cove is a bit more chilled out, Aquatica is so much fun because water slides are my big thing, and Busch Gardens is where all the extreme adrenaline junkies go. The rollercoasters there blew my mind, especially Falcon’s Fury – I rode it six times, I just couldn’t get enough. It was definitely the scariest ride I’ve ever done, but once you’re in there, you can’t escape. Theme parks are also a good way to stay active – you can walk three or four miles in a day.
You spend so much time in the pool when you’re training, do you steer clear of it on holiday?
I don’t spend my days by the pool unless it’s got loads of water slides in it. I spend half my life in a pool, so I love exploring and adventure – anything that involves adrenaline. I’ve been on ski holidays but I’m paranoid about getting injured, so I’ll save that one for after Rio. I’ve done bungee jumping in Switzerland and skydiving in Thailand. They’re hard to compare. Skydiving was fun because it lasted longer whereas with the bungee, you hang upside down then you have to pull yourself up, but I still loved it. I did lots of the things on my bucket list last year.
Where would you like to go next?
I would love to go South Africa, and I’ve never been to South America. I love travelling and when I finish diving, I’m going to spend a couple of months seeing the world. We have training camps all over the place, so I’m here, there and everywhere. This year, the World Series circuit is in Beijing, Dubai, London, Canada and Mexico, while the world championships are in Russia. But normally, all I see is the hotel and the pool. It’s the first chance to qualify for the Olympics this year, so it’s a big year.
Would you use a travel agent to book your holidays in future?
I do a lot of research when I’m planning a holiday. I speak to lots of people about what I should do there. I like to have things planned, otherwise you never do everything you want. So having someone you could ask and finding out what you need to know from one travel agent would make life a lot easier.
What do you miss most when you’re away?
I couldn’t live without the internet. I feel out of touch if I don’t have it. I miss certain foods as well, but mainly I miss my friends and family. When you’re experiencing new things and exploring new places, you’re having fun, so you want to share it with the people you love.
You’ve achieved a lot for someone so young. What’s still on your wish list?
Most divers don’t reach their peak until they are about 22, so I’ve got a couple of years to go. You hit the water at 35 miles an hour, so you get a good battering while you’re up there, but as long as my body holds out, I will be diving. I have never won an Olympic gold medal, so that still motivates me. It’s something I have always dreamt of doing. I think about it quite often and it makes me nervous because it means so much. But it’s what we work for constantly, so when you get to a competition, you just focus on performing and doing your best.
To find out more about SeaWorld Orlando’s new rides, visit seaworldparks.com
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