British diving starlet abused on Twitter

British teenage diver Tom Daley has been targeted by abusive Twitter messages after one of the Olympic hosts' poster boys missed out on a medal in his opening event at the London Games.

The Twitter 'troll' accused the 18-year-old of letting down his late father after he and partner Pete Waterfield finished fourth in the 10m synchronised platform diving event on Monday.

A Twitter campaign to get the user banned from the site was launched following the comments about Daley's father, who died last year from brain cancer at the age of 40.

Daley retweeted a message from the user, Rileyy_69, which said: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."

The diver responded: "After giving it my all... you get idiots sending me this...". Daley received dozens of messages of support.

Police arrested a 17-year-old boy at a guesthouse in Weymouth, a coastal town in southwest England, hours after Daley received the messages.

A police spokesman said the youth was arrested "on suspicion of malicious communication. He is currently helping police with their inquiries."

Despite his tender years, Daley is one of the highest-profile competitors in the British Olympic team.

For several years, BBC TV cameras have followed the boy from a modest family in Plymouth, southwest England, chronicling his development into a world-class diver and his close relationship with his father Rob.

Rob, a burly man renowned for bear-hugging his embarrassed son in full view of the cameras after his dives, claimed to have never missed one of Tom's training sessions.

A BBC documentary shown just before the Games began showed Daley struggling to mourn his father while preparing for London -- and satisfying the demands of a host of sponsors keen to be associated with the photogenic teenager.

In one scene, an uncomfortable Daley was presented with a new car giftwrapped by a sponsor, even though he had not yet passed his driving test.

Daley's frustration with China's dominance of diving also emerged in the show -- he claimed that while he had to fit in training around lessons, the Chinese trained three times a day because they didn't attend school.

His fears were realised on Monday when China's Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan won the gold medal while Daley and Waterfield tumbled from top spot and out of the medals following a botched dive.

Daley's hopes now rest on the individual event on August 11, but the Twitter incident has sparked a fresh debate about what the organisers have dubbed the "social media Olympics".

Britain's Duncan Goodhew, a swimming gold medallist at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, condemned the behaviour of Daley's abuser.

"It is appalling that people behave that way," he told ITV television.

"I suppose that social media in one sense is fantastic, but turned the wrong way round it is very, very personal and it destroys people's lives.

"So I think people should be much more careful about what they say."

The British team's chef de mission, Andy Hunt, insisted Daley had not been affected by the Twitter abuse.

"I've met with Tom's coach and support staff. I talked to Tom last night," Hunt told reporters.

"Tom isn't affected by it and the team are absolutely focused on getting ready for the next round of competition."

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