Tokyo 2020: 'Incredible moment' for family of Leeds diver Matty Lee as he wins Olympic gold medal

Matty Lee’s parents have described how they watched with pride from a garden in Leeds as their 23-year-old son clinched gold in Tokyo with his dive partner Tom Daley.

By Georgina Morris
Monday, 26th July 2021, 1:04 pm
Great Britain's Tom Daley and Matty Lee during the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Picture: Michael Kappele/PA Wire via DPA.

Matty, 23, earned top honours after the pair put on a magnificent display in the synchronised 10m platform event at Tokyo 2020.

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Who is Matty Lee? The Leeds diver who won gold alongside partner Tom Daley at To...

Parents Helen and Tim enjoyed the breathtaking moment with around 20 members of friends and family in the back garden of their home in Leeds

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Tim said: “We started on the champagne at 7am. We were just celebrating the fact that he had got to the Olympics.

“Seeing him stood on that board was enough to pop the champagne for me.

“Everything else was just a bonus - but we never expected a bonus like this.

“What an incredible moment and brilliant achievement, we’re very proud parents.”

Tim said the family got up at 5.30am and set up a television in the back garden before welcoming friends and family round.

Helen added: “We were lucky to only have to get up at 5.30am, unlike some of these other families with children competing in the middle of the night.”

Speaking about the gold medal moment, she said: “It’s a bit surreal because we’re so far away, I think if we were there it would be a bit different.

“But we’ve had lots of friends and family around this morning which has made it feel that bit more exciting.

“We made a bit of a racket for the neighbours, although I think a lot of them might have been watching as well.

“We never really imagined that this was possible, who would? But in recent years he has done some big competitions so I suppose the possibility has been more real.

“But even then an Olympic gold is a way away. To see him do it was an unbelievable moment, it was very surreal to watch.

“I’m so proud of him, he’s done so well.”

Helen and Tim supported Matty from a young age when he trained at City of Leeds Diving Club but say Olympic gold was never their ambition.

Tim said: “I know a lot of the press and everyone else had them down as going for gold but diving is a cruel sport, it can go wrong just like that.

“We never assume a medal position in any competition, especially not the Olympics, unlike the commentators.”

Helen added: “When he first started it was just something he enjoyed doing and he did well at it from a young age.

“Since then he’s always wanted to do it and we’ve supported him, which is what we’ll continue to do. It was never necessarily about making it to the Olympics for us.

“Although he’s done that now and done incredibly well, there’s plenty more to come from him.”

Matty missed out on Rio 2016 and was training in his hometown Leeds two years later when the opportunity arose to be Daly’s ‘plus one’.

Speaking earlier this year, he said: “When (performance director) Alexei Evangulov said ‘do you want to move to London and work with Tom?’ there was not a doubt in my head that I wouldn’t.

“Maybe that was because of what I learnt from missing out on Rio, you’ve got to make the sacrifices.

“My mum, dad and brother all have birthdays in November and I remember struggling to even buy them a present, that’s how tough it got.

“But sometimes in life you’ve got to take a few steps back to take that leap forward, and this was a prime example.”

Within only a year, Matty and Daly were world bronze medallists - paving the way for increased funding and a place in Tokyo.

Speaking about his partner, Matty said: “I’ve known Tom for years, diving is a very close family, but he really has become one of my best friends.

“We’re a good team. He’s obviously the more experienced one. I see it as teacher and student, I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him so whenever he retires I can then try and push like he has done.”

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