Tom Daley, by Chas Newkey-Burden

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The Independent Culture

Few sportsmen have books written about them when they are 17. But then few sportsmen become world champions at the age of 15, as Tom Daley did when he unexpectedly won the individual platform gold at the 2009 World Diving Championships.

Impressive though that is, has the young Briton experienced enough in his short life to justify a full-scale biography – especially an unauthorised one? (He and his family didn't co-operate with this book, possibly because he is producing his own memoir, Coming Up For Air, in May as London 2012 hysteria nears its peak.)

Chas Newkey-Burden marshals what facts he has at his disposal in 224 pages of large, well-spaced type, and the picture emerges of a close-knit, supportive family, devastated by the tragic death from cancer of Daley's father and biggest supporter, Rob, last year.

While obviously no expert, Newkey-Burden details Daley's diving career adequately. He also notes how keen he is to make a splash away from the pool. For young Tom is becoming a bit of a media tart, happy to pose for photographs and visibly pleased when the TV cameras are on him.

Tellingly, he has in the past announced his flight details on Facebook to ensure maximum publicity on his arrival at Heathrow.

And, of course, he is a pin-up for a legion of young girls, an area of his life that Newkey-Burden, as the author of a book about the teeny-throb warbler Justin Bieber, is comfortable discussing.

Apart from occasional descents into complete twaddle - "A boy from Devon could only ever carry a wholesome, grounded air" - it's competently done but no more, biography "lite" without any great insights. Let's hope there is a glorious chapter to be added after this summer's Olympics.

Published in hardback by Michael O'Mara, £11.99

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