Tom Daley, the 18-year old Olympic diver who finished fourth in the men’s synchronized 10 m platform diving event yesterday, has probably already started thickening up his skin against the trolls who crawl the internet, looking for cruel things to say; it’s something anyone in the spotlight must do, and Olympians are in the brightest spotlight of them all right now.
However, it’s doubtful he was prepared for the truly heinous words directed at him after he took fourth place: “U let ur dad down”.
While the words may seem innocuous here, they are much more malicious when you know that Daley’s father passed away last year of brain cancer. Daley was very close with his father, who was instrumental in helping the young athlete towards his goal. In fact, before the games began this year, Daley said in an interview that he was pushing forward this Olympics season for his father.
“I’m doing it for myself and my dad. It was both our dreams from a very young age. I always wanted to do it and Dad was so supportive of everything.”
The Twitter user responsible for the tweet, most will be happy to know, has been arrested on charges of malicious communications. UK police are cracking down on the use of social media to bully or abuse others, and Olympic officials are doing the same, with one calling this particular user’s actions “appalling”. Daley responded to the tweet by reposting it, where it was seen by his 843,000 followers and promptly blasted. The 17-year old boy responsible then backtracked and tried to apologize to Daley, saying he was just “frustrated” because he wanted his team to win, and that he didn’t want everyone to hate him.
Perhaps he should have thought of that before he used a public social media site to be cruel, no?