Tom Daley was in hospital battling COVID just months before the Tokyo Olympics

Lily Wakefield October 2, 2021
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Tom Daley posing with his gold medal

Tom Daley posing with his gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Getty/ Clive Rose)

Gay Olympian Tom Daley has opened up about secretly battling COVID-19 and being rushed to hospital, just months before the Tokyo Olympics.

In an interview with The Times, which is serialising his book Coming Up For Air: What I Learned From Sport, the diver described the terrifying ordeal in January, just seven months before he won a gold medal with diving partner Matty Lee.

Describing the feeling of having the virus, he said his “lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

His illness progressed, and one night he went to bed after instructing his husband, Oscar-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, on what to do if he “stopped breathing”.

“I honestly felt like I might die”, he said, adding that he feared what would happen to their son, Robbie, if both he and Black came down with COVID.

Tom Daley had ‘flashes of fear’ about being ‘put on a ventilator’

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping”, Tom Daley decided to call 111.

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

Luckily, a few days later, he began to recover, although he was kept out of training for months. Somehow, Daley still managed to take home both a bronze and a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

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