Diving: Daley takes scalp of 'world's best'

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The Independent Online

Britain's teenage diving prodigy, Tom Daley, sealed the latest extraordinary win of his career last night by beating the man regarded as the world's best diver, Germany's Sascha Klein, to win the 10m platform title at the European Championships in Eindhoven.

Britain's women's 4x100m medley relay squad, anchored by 17-year-old Fran Halsall, also took gold in the Netherlands, clocking a European record of 3min 59.33sec. David Davies, in the 1500m freestyle, and the women's 4x200m freestyle squad, both won silvers.

Daley, 13, from Plymouth, will become Britain's second-youngest male competitor in Olympic history when he competes in the 10m platform in Beijing this summer. He secured that spot by finishing seventh at a World Cup event in China last month, won by Klein.

Though the world rankings put two Chinese athletes, Zhou Luxin, 19, and Lin Yue, 16, above Klein, 22, the world No 3, the German's win in an Olympic-class field in China makes him the form athlete. Yesterday's result will lead to a reassessment of Daley's podium chances in Beijing.

"All the time and effort, everything I've put into diving, has been worth it," said Daley, who turns 14 in May. "Becoming European champion is amazing,although my focus remains 2012. Still, it's nice to pick up medals on the way."

Daley could yet get two medal shots in Beijing, the other being in the 10m synchro event alongside Blake Aldridge. Either they or their home rivals, Leon Taylor and Peter Waterfield, will represent Britain.

Daley scored perfect 10s yesterday with his fourth and fifth dives. Britain's youngest Games medallist was diver Brian Phelps, aged 16 years and 134 days when he won bronze in the 10m platform Rome in 1960.

A recent correction to records established that a 13-year-old rower, Kenneth Lester, was Britain's youngest male Olympian, in 1960. Daley will be 14 years and 94 days old when he competes in Beijing.