February 19 - British diver Tom Daley (pictured) has defended himself over a warning from British Diving's performance director Alexei Evangulov that he is harming his chances of winning a medal at London 2012 by spending too much time on media appearances.
The 17-year-old former world champion, effectively one of the "poster boys" for this summer's Games, has been warned by Evangulov that if he wants to be on the podium in five months' time he needs to match the preparations of his Chinese rivals, whom he said "train three times harder".
However, Daley (pictured below) responded: "Leading into competition, I am on complete media lock-down.
"I only have a media day that is organised through British Swimming, so literally I am not allowed to talk to anyone in the lead-in to big competitions.
"So it is definitely very controlled, now."
Although Evangulov has some say in Daley's life away from the pool, Evangulov has voiced his concern over media commitments: "I can't stop it.
"If I had power over this, I would restrict it.
"Sometimes it hinders our preparations, but I can't do anything about it," the Russian said.
"I know how the Chinese are training and they work much harder.
"If you compare them to Thomas, he has many commitments in his media activities.
"The Chinese have restricted their divers and I support them on this.
"I would recommend Tom to make not so many commitments to the media."
Daley became Britain's first diving world champion in 2009, but both Evangulov and Daley's camp said China's Qui Bo (pictured below), the 2011 world champion in the 10m platform competition where the Briton finished fifth, was the man to beat in London.
"Fifth – that really is his rating at that moment," Evangulov said.
"The people in Great Britain are mistakenly convinced that he [Daley] is the best in the world, but he is not.
"He's very strong and he's one of the best, but he is not the best."
A statement issued by Daley's team said: "We fully agree that British public expectation is too high around Tom.
"Qui Bo from China is very much the gold medal favourite.
"In tennis terms, he is Novak Djokovic, the man to beat following an unbeaten 2011.
"Qui Bo may yet become the greatest diver of all time.
"However, we are all very focused on ensuring that Tom has every chance for success in London this summer."
Daley is set to compete at FINA World Cup at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, which opens tomorrow, his first international competition since July's World Championships in Shanghai.
Earlier this week Leon Taylor, who won silver at the 2004 Athens Games with Daley's current partner Peter Waterman in the 10m platform synchro event, told insidethegames that he felt Daley, whom he mentored, was coping well with the pressures of being one of the favourites in the forthcoming home Games.
"You need to get the balance of competitiveness and relaxation right, and I think he is," said Taylor.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2012: Daley is dealing with the London effect really well, says Olympian Taylor
January 2012: Daley and I can win gold at London 2012, says Waterfield
November 2011: London 2012 test events tickets to go on sale offering chance to see Tweddle, Hoy and Daley
August 2011: Exclusive - Olympic diving silver medallist believes current crop can replicate his success
July 2011: Daley swept aside as Chinese complete cleansweep