Coming Up for Air

Olympic gold medal-winning diver Tom Daley's memoir, Coming Up for Air, is an inspiring, moving and honest examination of a gay athlete's life. Daley (Tom's Daily Goals) was 14 when he participated in his first Olympics in 2008, and at age 15, he became Britain's first individual diving world champion, winning a gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Rome. There's a lot about diving and training in this memoir, but Daley is also very open about the debilitating physical and mental stress he experienced.

The memoir is broken into 11 chapters with titles such as "Perseverance," "Acceptance," "Motivation," "Endurance," etc., that focus on individual traits that helped Daley accomplish his goals. These chapters are both how-to and tell-all in nature. In the heartbreaking and tender "Courage" chapter, he recounts the experience of losing his father to a brain tumor and, before he can process his grief, returning to training. He also meets his future husband, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who helps him confront his inability to let people get close to him. Black also helps him realize that "diving was something I could do but it wasn't who I was. This realisation brought with it a profound sense of freedom and release."

Few memoirs by athletes are as brutally candid as Daley's. He details his panic attacks, an eating disorder and body image issues as well as a plethora of physical illnesses, including pneumonia, a concussion, a Covid infection and a secret knee surgery several months before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Written with charm and an open heart, Daley's memoir is irresistible. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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