In Excerpt From His Memoir, Tom Daley Reveals His Battle With COVID-19

Tom Daley, showing off his latest knitting item, reveals in his forthcoming memoir his battle with COVID-19. (Photo Credit: Tom Daley Official Instagram Account)

With the COVID-19 pandemic going into the 19th month, there have been over 43 million cases alone in the United States with 700k of those cases resulting in death.  Over on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom, the number of cases is over 7 million with over 136k deaths. In an excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, Coming Up For Air, released to the Sunday magazine for the London newspaper, The Times, Olympic diver Tom Daley reveals his struggle with the virus.

In January, Daley explains in the passage, how he started feeling dizzy during training but attributed it to a diving concussion from weeks earlier. However, his head persisted to ache and after doing a lateral flow test to rule out COVID, which came back negative, Daley recalls “a bit of a dull, weird headache” as he continued his training. Daley reveals in the excerpt:


On the Friday, I woke up with a really sore throat, like razor blades were in the back of my throat. When I went into training I took another lateral flow test, and again, it was negative. The sore throat disappeared after an hour or two, so I wondered whether I had just picked up a bug of some sort.

After putting our son Robbie to bed, I quickly started to feel that something was very wrong. All of a sudden I had a very high fever and was either freezing cold or burning hot. My teeth chattered so hard and my skull ached. I hadn’t felt that bad since I had pneumonia. 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. My husband, Lance, had to help me down the stairs and to the bathroom.

After his trouble sleeping that night, Daley recalls taking another lateral flow test only for it to come back negative again and as his fever continued and breathing worsening, Daley took a PCR test, and found out within eight hours he was positive for the coronavirus. Daley’s husband, Dustin Lance Black ended up getting sick as well and even though he started to feel better, Daley elaborates his cough got worse and his oxygen levels dropped. Daley writes:

I called 111 and they sent a paramedic to check me out. They decided with my history of pneumonia, and some evidence that the new strains of the virus were causing chest infections off the back of the original infection, they took me in. Going into hospital in an ambulance with Covid was scary.


I felt conflicting emotions: on the one hand, I felt bad because I knew the NHS, particularly in London where I lived, was so overwhelmed by the virus. I knew I was really sick, and it was Saturday night, so I wouldn’t be able to speak to a consultant until Monday. I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill. I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.

They did blood tests and a chest X-ray. There were loads of blotches on my lungs. I was in hospital for about ten hours to monitor my sats, and they gave me some oxygen to boost the levels. Once they stabilized, they sent me home.

Daley also shares in the excerpt published by The Times Magazine tearing the cartilage in his knee in 2020 and making the tough decision to have surgery with his recovery time ending near the original dates of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.


Daley’s memoir, Coming Up For Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame, and Fatherhood will be released in the United Kingdom on October 14.

Sources: CDC, United Kingdom Official Coronavirus website, The Times, Huffington Post, Tom Daley Official Instagram Account,

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