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Daley fever hits Southend
6:20pm Friday 3rd August 2012 in News
OLYMPIC diving fans got a real treat in Southend yesterday – a front row glimpse of 18-year-old diving sensation, Tom Daley.
Poster boy Tom, and the rest of the Team GB divers, are busy practising at the swimming and diving centre in Garon Park, Southend, for their next medal-winning attempts.
Far from having private practice sessions with their coaches, the spectator gallery at the pool was crammed full yesterday with spectators cheering on the hopefuls.
The hour-long training took place in the middle of the day when the pool was brimming with children and families enjoying the school holidays.
For sports-lovers who were not able to get tickets to the Games, it was the perfect tonic and a chance to feel part of the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Taylor Barrall, 14, from Chalkwell , visited Southend Tennis and Leisure Centre with his mother to get a glimpse of teen star Tom, ahead of his individual platform event next Friday.
He said: “Unfortunately we didn’t get tickets for the Olympics and obviously we wanted to do our bit to support the British team. It is so exciting having the Games in this country.
“Me and mum have been ringing up every day since we found out Tom and the team were training here, and we were lucky enough to get tickets.
“It was really good seeing Tom and all the different techniques he has.
“I can’t believe how close we got. He is so famous!”
Unfortunately for the hordes of screaming teenage girls who descended on Garon Park to get close to heart-throb Tom, photographs and recordings were strictly prohibited as was approaching the athletes and asking for autographs.
Security guards surrounded the pool and spectator area ensuring there were no breaches and the team could train relatively undisturbed.
Adele Bates, 43, from Great Wakering, became interested in diving after her nephew took up the sport.
She said: “It was really good to come along and see Tom, especially as we didn’t even have to pay.
“My whole family is really interested in the Olympics, and particularly the swimming and diving.
“We couldn’t get tickets, so it was really good to be able to watch him train – and we got such a close view! It is so different to watching on the TV.
“To have this facility in Southend is fantastic, especially for local children.”
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