Tom Daley's mum defends TV show after crticism from Loughborough swimming boss David Sparkes
The head of British Swimming has come under attack from the mother of Olympic diver Tom Daley.
David Sparkes, who is based in Loughborough, had criticised the 18-year-old bronze medalist's new ITV show Splash!, which pits celebrities against one another on the diving board.
The Saturday night show, which had a peak audience of 6.3 million people when it first aired on January 5, featured celebrity contestants including comic Omid Djalili and Sugababe Jade Ewen.
Mr Sparkes, who works from England's Amateur Swimming Association's headquarters in Oakwood Drive, told the Daily Mail he thought the show distracted Tom from training.
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He was quoted as saying: "Tom is an incredibly talented young man but he's yet to achieve his full potential and it's only going to get harder to achieve that Olympic gold medal as he gets older.
"You can rest assured the next Chinese diving superstar will not have such distractions.
"He should look at the example of Torvill and Dean, who waited until the end of their competitive skating careers before doing such programmes.
"I'm concerned Tom is putting the cart before the horse and I've expressed those concerns to his agent."
But Tom's mum, Debbie, has responded with an open letter to Mr Sparkes in the Daily Mail, attacking him for failing to support Tom after his work in the Olympics.
She wrote: "Tom was one of the few major success stories for British Swimming this summer and possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job.
"I find it incredible that you want to criticise him so publicly.
"Surely you should be thanking Tom and showing your support and gratitude?
"A leader should motivate his team, not make them think 'Why do I bother?'."
Tom thanked his mum by saying, "My mum is amazing", on Twitter.
Mr Sparkes was unavailable to speak to the Leicester Mercury.