By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

I am sure you’ve seen the viral photos of Tom Daley knitting while watching his fellow Team GB and diving mates competing, the seemingly relaxed and wholesome moment is winning the hearts of people all over. Here is Daley, at the biggest competition in the world, casually knitting. As it turns out, he was knitting quite a few items, including a nice Olympic cardigan as well as a little cozy for his newly won Olympic medal.

“”One thing that has kept me sane throughout this whole process is my love for knitting and crochet and all things stitching,” Daley said.

 

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A post shared by Tom Daley (@madewithlovebytomdaley)

While it might seem unusual to see such a high-level athlete during the biggest event of his career so casually relaxed, Daley’s knitting serves a major role in his greater competition. As we’ve seen with athletes such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, the pressure of competition, especially at this level, can be quite extreme. It is easy for us to see these athletes as the greatest in the world, but they are still fallible and sometime the pressure becomes too much to deal with.

Of course, athletes all have learned how to handle these pressures in their own unique ways. Some athletes like to dance, others like to sit and stare angrily, some athletes read, listen to music, play an instrument. Tom Daley likes to knit. Knitting is such a simple task, and it offers a focus for Daley to separate himself from the pressures of competition, allowing him to relax and let his mind take a break. As Daley himself shared on his Instagram, the knitting is his way toward “finding calm, mindfulness and relieves stress.” In fact, his knitting has become such an important part of his daily routine, he even created his own Instagram account for it.

Daley isn’t the only Olympian who’s found solace in knitting during high performance competition. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Finland’s snowboarding coach was also spotted knitting before his athletes’ competition started.  Tom Daley already won a gold medal in the Men’s synchronized 10m event last week and will be competing on Friday in the Men’s 10m platform.