When Tom Daley and his diving partner Pete Waterfield failed to take a medal in the synchronised 10m platform event yesterday afternoon, the British fans who’d been willing them on were understandably disappointed. But while most continued to show their support, one person took to the internet to post abuse on Daley’s Twitter page.
Twitter user @Rileyy_69 left a message about Daley’s father, who died of brain cancer in 2011, telling the diver he had let his dad down. He then made an apparent apology before unleashing a stream of abuse and personal threats.
“After giving it my all…you get idiot’s sending me this…” responded Daley, via his Twitter handle @tomdaley1994.
A campaign aimed at naming and shaming the user quickly sprang up on the social media site, accompanied by the hashtag #getrileyy_69banned, with one Twitter user even sharing a phone number they claimed belonged to the owner of the account.
@Rileyy_69’s account was subsequently suspended, and police have since arrested a teenager in connection with the incident.
“A 17-year-old man was arrested by Dorset Police officers in the early hours of this morning, Tuesday, at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communication,” police said in a statement.
“He is currently helping police with their enquiries.”
As well as support from the general public – not least on Twitter, where the hashtag #WereProudOfYouTom was attached to posts – Daley also received messages from his fellow athletes.
His diving partner Waterfield tweeted: “For all the haters out there, come do what we do then have ur say,” while Team GB open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne posted: “Ignore the idiots! Not worth it.”
Waterfield and Daley were in gold medal position for the first three dives, before a mistake by Waterfield during their fourth dive saw them drop into fourth place, where they remained for the rest of the competition.
Following the event yesterday, Waterfield said he had apologised to Daley for the error that cost them the chance of a medal.
“After that dive, I said sorry, but Tom told me not to worry,” he said.
Daley will attempt to win his first Olympic medal once more in the individual 10m Platform event, which reaches the final stage at 8:30pm on Saturday 11 August.