Tom Daley should be applauded for his sixth-place finish at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
Despite being one of the favourites whenever he steps onto the 10m platform, the English diver battled through an imperfect preparation and injury to post a decent showing in Spain. As tweeted by BBC Sport, China's Qiu Bo took gold while Olympic champion and semifinal leader David Boudia was ousted to second:
Upon finishing sixth, Daley confirmed himself as one of the sport's toughest competitors. The 19-year-old tore his upper triceps just days before entering the Barcelona competition and still managed to put himself within sight of capturing the win. As Daley revealed to BBC Sport, the reoccurrence of April’s injury came as a huge surprise:
I found out yesterday that I've torn my triceps again so today and yesterday I've been diving with a torn triceps not knowing whether it was going to make it worse.
I've also had a local anaesthetic in there today so I've been diving with a numb arm so it was a bit of a weird sensation but I really wanted to compete and would have even if my arm was falling off.
It's one of those really frustrating things knowing that it's only 517 points to get a silver so the scores are low, but if you have an injury you can only do your best and I'm a long way off that.
Daley and his followers can take heart from a gutsy performance. We know the British heartthrob possesses an optimistic outlook—his willingness to dive after the death of his father confirmed that—but his physical limits appear to meet no boundary.
Although Daley was third with two dives remaining, his final result is not the important aspect here. A disappointing final two dives saw him drop away from the medal places. This event may stick in his mind, but the starlet has plenty to be proud of in a display that many would have shied away from.
Qiu Bo’s second consecutive world title victory will focus Daley's attention on returning to full fitness.
The likes of Qiu and Boudia provide immensely difficult competition at the best of times and were always going to score higher than any injured opponent. Daley's progression in the Barcelona competition amounted to a consistent struggle that he was willing to wade through, as his chances were not on a level footing with the aforementioned divers.
Even so, he was just two dives away from securing an unlikely medal. Despite missing his signature three-and-a-half forward somersault with his last attempt, Daley had the guts to continue aiming for the top. With his injury confirmed, Daley knew all eyes were on his every move. In the face of extreme pressure, he gave himself the best possible chance of winning.
This mentality and physical determination holds Daley in good stead for the future. Although obviously disappointed at misfiring on the technical points of his last two dives, it was with typical good humour that the star jokingly tweeted his feelings:
Such an unbeatable attitude will see the London 2012 bronze medalist go a long way. The Englishman’s undeniable heart and willingness to compete at the top level certainly underlines a future that will be defined by greatness.