Olympic hopeful Daley's father dies

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The Independent Online

Teenage British diving champion Tom Daley's father Robert has died following a long battle with brain cancer at the age of 40.

Robert Daley, who accompanied his son to tournaments and became a familiar figure at the poolside, died "peacefully" late last night with his family by his side, a statement from British Swimming confirmed.

Mr Daley's health had deteriorated since February after it was confirmed that a tumour had returned, five years after he was first diagnosed with the illness.

The statement read: "Tom Daley's father, Rob Daley lost his battle with cancer yesterday 27th May at 21.35 hours.

"Rob Daley, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006, passed away peacefully with his family at his side.

"His health has been fluctuating since February but he continued to fight until the last day, defying doctors' expectations.

"The family have asked for respect to their privacy during this very difficult period."

World platform champion Tom, who turned 17 last week, was with his father and last night wrote on his Twitter page: "I love you so much Dad".

Mr Daley followed his son's promising career around the world despite his battle with cancer.

He attended all of Tom's events until last year's Commonwealth Games when he was forced to remain at home to continue his rehabilitation after a tumour returned.

His determination to support his son remained, however, and he made a late dash to Sheffield with his family last month to watch Tom and synchro partner Peter Waterfield claim their first ever gold medal together in the World Series.

Before the final of the meeting Tom was pictured in the crowd hugging his crying father, who had been determined to watch his son dive at next year's Olympics in London.

Mr Daley wore a t-shirt that night which read "Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning" with Tom saying after the event: "I am his oil".

Robert was first diagnosed with a fist-sized brain tumour in 2006 of which surgeons were able to originally remove 80%.

The tumour, however, returned last year.

Mr Daley leaves his wife Debbie and three sons Tom, William and Ben.

Mr Daley had been clinging to the hope of seeing his son compete at the London 2012 Olympics as motivation in his fight against cancer.

Jamie Cunningham, one of the diver's publicity team, said: "When Rob and I walked into Tom's post-victory press conference at the 2009 World Championships, there was a slight feeling of embarrassment mainly because Rob had a very private moment with Tom in front of the world's media.

"However, it was actually not about ego.

"Rob had just watched his 15-year-old son become Britain's youngest ever World Champion. He had not been able to congratulate him for nearly an hour... Rob was just being Rob. Passionate and proud.

"Tom Daley is without doubt the most impressive teenager I have ever met - both as a sportsman and a human being. That is the biggest compliment that I can pay Rob. We will miss you Rob but will cherish your memory."

Later, Tom, who lives in Plymouth, Devon, with his family, tweeted: "If I could be half the dad that my dad was to me then that would be my best achievement! I love you! Xx"