Diving: Daley cuts ties with his 'phone' partner

Father says British prodigy will 'never dive again' with 'bad influence' Aldridge

By Nick Harris
Wednesday 18 March 2009 01:00

Britain's diving prodigy Tom Daley will "never dive again" with Blake Aldridge, his Olympic partner in the 10 metres platform synchronised event with whom he infamously fell out in the middle of the most important competition of their lives, at last year's Games in Beijing.

The development will come as news to the hierarchy of British diving, which had been expecting Daley, 14, and Aldridge, 26, to keep working together in the short term to represent Britain at this summer's world championships in Rome.

But Daley's father, Rob, who believed Aldridge acted inappropriately by phoning his mother on his mobile phone in between dives in China last summer, has told The Independent he will not allow his son to work with Aldridge any more.

It is understood that Rob Daley has become dismayed at Aldridge's behaviour away from the pool, and was concerned by reports of a nightclub fracas when Aldridge was punched unconscious by three strangers. Aldridge, apparently an innocent victim, said he was targeted because he was famous.

Daley Jnr and Aldridge's rift from last year was thought to be healing, but Rob Daley said last night: "Tom will never dive with Blake again. I don't want it to happen. In my view, Blake is not a good influence on Tom."

It is understood Daley already has a new partner lined up, possibly Max Brick, a 17-year-old from Southampton. Whether they can gel quickly enough to dive together at the world championships remains to be seen. Daley will certainly be competing in the 10m solo event.

That unsettling news for British diving was more than balanced by another good day for British swimming at the national championships here. The night after Jo Jackson beat Rebecca Adlington in a thrilling final to break the 400m freestyle world record, more records tumbled, and Adlington was back in action in the 200m free semi-finals. The 20-year-old progressed to tonight's final in the third-fastest time.

In the women's 200m individual medley final 19-year-old Hannah Miley set a new British and European record by winning in 2 minutes 9.59 seconds. Ellen Gandy, 17, set a British record in the 100m butterfly, and Fran Halsall won the 50m freestyle in a British record 24.53sec. Liam Tancock, the 50m backstroke world record holder, won the 100m backstroke in a British record 53.20sec.

On other side of the swimming world, controversy was unfolding as a result of new rules introduced to prevent enhancement of performance via costume. Therese Alshammar, a Swede who clocked a world record in the 50m butterfly when taking part as a guest in the Australian national championships yesterday, was stripped of her record for wearing two swimsuits.

She had broken new rules, adopted in Australia 17 days ago, limiting a swimmer to one suit at a time. Similar regulations were ratified on a world-wide basis at the weekend by swimming's world governing body, Fina. Australia's head coach, Alan Thompson, said there was confusion about when Fina's new rules could be applied, but said the bylaws in Australia were already active.

Fina's wide-ranging regulations are meant to combat accusations of "doping by hangar" as a result of space-age suits. New rules dictate suits should not cover the neck, should not extend past the shoulders and ankles, and should have limited buoyancy.

Wearing two suits has become more common among athletes who believe that doing so streamlines their bodies. Dennis Pursley, Britain's new head coach, said the new generation of suits was performance-enhancing and should be banned.

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