Daley topping the podium alongside Matty Lee in the men’s synchronised event was one of the feelgood stories of Tokyo 2020 and although solo success continues to be elusive, he claimed his fourth Olympic medal on Saturday.
He led at halfway at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre but a minor error from his fourth dive and the excellence of Chinese pair Cao Yuan and Yang Jian, who took gold and silver respectively, meant Daley settled for a third Olympic bronze.
It may not yet be the last hurrah of an Olympic career that began at Beijing 2008 as Daley has not ruled out continuing to Paris 2024 and could be enticed by the prospect of mixed or team events being put into the schedule.
Daley has combined to good effect with Scottish diver Grace Reid in the mixed 3m synchro, winning world series and European Championships gold medals.
While the only thing he did confirm is an imminent period of rest, Daley thinks a unique system of exercise called gyrotonics he has incorporated into his routine since son Robbie was born in 2018 could prolong his diving career.
“I hear of rumours through the grapevine that they might put in the mixed synchro events or a team event into diving, which would mean three more events – that might be worth sticking around for,” the 27-year-old said.
“Regardless of what that decision is, I’m definitely going to take a break over the next six months or so. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and my body needs a bit of a break.
“And then, I’m not necessarily putting any decision on it. At the end of the day I love the sport and I feel like I’m just getting back into the swing of things now. I had a bit of a dip in 2018 with injuries and things.
“But since Robbie has been born I’ve found gyrotonics, which is something that’s really helped me stay flexible and use muscles that I can actually stay healthy with.
“Over the next year I’ll make the decision, but at the moment my body is doing alright so I don’t know why I would quit now. It’s also nice to be an Olympic champion. When you have that feeling, you also want to do it again.”
With victory here, Cao became the first person to win gold in three different diving events, having reigned as champion in the men’s 10m synchronised event at London 2012 and the men’s 3m springboard at Rio 2016.
Daley, who collected impressive 90-plus scores with five of his six dives and has captured the imagination in the Japanese capital in the last couple of weeks with his knitting, was delighted to finish on the podium.
“I’m so extremely happy to come away with a gold and a bronze medal from these Olympic Games, my most successful Games yet,” he said.