Tom Daley says he owes his Olympic gold medal to 'being able to knit and crochet'

Virgin Radio

26 Oct 2022, 11:15

Tom Allen and Tom Daley at Virgin Radio.

Olympic diver Tom Daley joined The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his debut knitting and crochet book, Made With Love.

The book - which is out tomorrow (27th October) - teaches people how to knit and crochet with the aim to inspire more creativity. The diving gold medallist told Tom Allen, who is in this week for Chris: “There are all the tips and tricks you need, of being able to learn to knit, to advance your knitting skills from where they already are. It was a really fun process to be able to get down to the ‘knitty gritty’ with some of the designs and the process of that as well.”

Made With Love has 30 knitting and crochet patterns, and each project in the book is labelled with a difficulty indicator, so there is something for all skill levels. “If you have never picked up knitting needles or a crochet hook in your life, you will be able to do some of these projects in this book. And also if you’re a proficient knitter, there are projects in there for you as well,” Tom said.   

Tom first started knitting in March 2020. He explained: “I’m not someone who can just sit in front of a TV and do nothing, so then my husband, being a filmmaker, said that lots of people on set knit squares, and I was like, ‘Okay, I can give that a go. Why not?' So, I taught myself to knit by YouTube, and each project that I made, I tried to learn a new skill, a new stitch or whatever, and before I knew it, I then learned to crochet and then to design and here we are.”

Of course, the diver was seen knitting to pass time at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, including his iconic Team GB cardigan. He became the first British diver to win four Olympic medals, after winning Gold in the 10m synchronised dive. He said: “For me, knitting and crochet is a way of being able to zone everything else out. I honestly do owe the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo to being able to knit and crochet.” 

On being at the Olympics in Tokyo during Covid, the gold medallist said: “When we were there, we weren’t allowed out of the village, we weren’t allowed out of our rooms, we weren’t allowed to socialise. There was so much time to overthink and worry about the competition, so I just remember spending all of my time knitting, so it just took me completely out of my head.”

Tom has an Instagram account dedicated to his knitting, and has since launched Made With Love by Tom Daley, which is a line of knitting kits. He added: “The mindfulness thing was the main reason for me doing it. My coach Jane, before I started, was like, ‘You need to find something where you can sit still, and rest and recover, because you’re always on the go, you’re always doing something.’”

Tom did not compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but he made a BBC documentary, Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me, which looked at some of the Commonwealth’s most homophobic countries, and asked what the sporting world can do to help. “It was a really eye-opening experience,” he explained: “I went to Pakistan, I went to Jamaica, and one of the big things after speaking to athletes around the Commonwealth was that visibility was the key.

“We take for granted the Pride Flag… but in the countries where the existence of that is illegal, seeing that is a sign of hope and safety for lots of people. Which is why, at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, we fought for having six advocates from those countries where their existence is illegal to be carrying those flags into the stadium.

He added: “There’s a billion eyes on that around the Commonwealth, so it hopefully sends a message to the rest of the Commonwealth that there is a space for you here on this planet.”

When asked whether he has any plans to dive again soon, the Olympic star said: “I’ve not been back on a diving board actually, since Tokyo. So I’m going to go back and give it a go for a little period of time, and see if I want to go back to it, but I haven’t really made any decisions yet. 

“I feel really lucky to have found a second pattern in life with knitting and crochet and designing knitwear. I really want to see where that goes as well.”

Made With Love is published tomorrow, 27th October.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.