THE parents of British Olympic diving prodigy Tom Daley are considering removing him from his school following claims he has been bullied due to his high profile.
The 14-year-old, who is one of his country’s main medal hopes for the London Games in 2012, has been kept away from school over the past week.
His father, Rob Daley, said he was now considering removing his son from Eggbuckland Community College in Plymouth, Devon, permanently because of constant jibes and the "childish name-calling and antics" of his fellow pupils.
Mr Daley said: "I have been to see Tom’s head of year and also the principal in the past six weeks, because Tom has been so upset. Although Tom had not said anything, I could tell by his sombre mood when he came home from school over the past few months that something was wrong.
"Although they [the school] cannot be held responsible for the students, I do think the school should be more proactive in trying to sort this bullying out. We would not want to have to do it, but we will change schools unless this is sorted out, as my son’s wellbeing comes before everything else."
Mr Daley said he had kept his son away from school for two days before the Easter break because he felt the bullying might affect his form at the FINA World Series competition in Sheffield.
At the event Daley competed against Australian Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham and won a silver medal, finishing less than a point away from gold.
Mr Daley, who lives in Plymouth, said he had kept his son off school this week mainly because he did not want him to be further upset before he flies to Florida for next month’s grand prix event at Fort Lauderdale.
The young diver said that the bullying started after last year’s Olympics in Beijing and had become increasingly worse.
He said: "I had always ignored the ‘diver boy’ or ‘Speedo boy’ comments when I came back from Beijing last year, hoping they [the other pupils] would get fed up and stop. The trouble is they have not, and it is even the younger kids who are joining in. It is getting to the stage now where I think ‘Oh, to hell with it. I do not want to go back to school."
The school’s principal, Katrina Borowski, said in a statement: "Needless to say, it would be incorrect for me to specifically discuss the private matters of one of our students. However, what I can say is that Tom’s extremely high profile has led to a minority of students acting in an immature way towards him. Meetings have been held between college staff, parents and Tom’s friends, in which appropriate strategies were discussed. Certain students have been sanctioned.
"We take the wellbeing of students extremely seriously and have a very clear policy for dealing swiftly and firmly with any incidents of conflict. This involves working in close partnership with parents and other agencies where appropriate."
■ Tokyo: Japanese swimming star Kosuke Kitajima, who retained his double breaststroke titles at the Beijing Olympics, hinted heavily in an interview published on Friday that he will compete at the London 2012 Games.
Since Beijing last year, the 26-year-old has stopped regular training to help promote Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid and train children, prompting speculation that he may retire.
But in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, he said he would soon resume training, in the United States.
"I want to compete for the national flag again. I want to be someone whom people will want to watch perform again," he said.
Kitajima, nicknamed the "Frog King" by the Chinese media, sat out the national championships this month in Japan, a selection event for the world championships in Rome this summer.
Asked which event he would train for, Kitajima said "an event that requires the most thrilling and best performance is definitely the Olympics. Once I start, I will of course go for victory."
Telegraph, London and AFP