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'The Daley factor' brings the buzz of Glasgow back to the pool

IT BEING the first day of the Edinburgh Fringe, all eyes in the capital were on those treading the boards last night - though as it turned out the star performer was wearing Speedos, had no lines to remember and his stage was a diving platform.

Still, if it's drama you want, Tom Daley's your man.

The decorated Olympian, still only 20, began his defence of his Commonwealth Games 10 Metres Synchronised title after a leisurely few days in which he had posed for selfies, been spotted sipping coffee in a George Street Starbucks and even dropped in to Nando's.

After reports of empty seats on Wednesday's first day of competition at the capital's Royal Commonwealth Pool, organisers will have been pleased to learn yesterday's sessions were completely sold out. That was thanks in large part to the Daley factor and, though he wasn't diving until the evening, the ardour of his fans was rewarded by his presence among the spectators for the morning session.

"He walked right underneath me," said eight-year-old Finnegan Guest from Linlithgow, adding a helpful description of the diving star. "He had spiky hair, a tan, and brown eyes."

Attending with his 43-year-old mother Fidelma, Finnegan has recently completed a school project on diving, so he probably knows as much as anyone about Tom Daley. "I like him," he continued. "He's really cool and he's a really good diver".

For Mrs Guest, having events in Edinburgh makes the Games more accessible for those in the capital and surrounding areas, though with the Fringe now up and running and the city already thronged with festival-goers, Edinburgh doesn't have Glasgow's singular sense of sporting excitement.

"We didn't really feel anything in the city centre until we got up here to the pool, but there's a brilliant buzz here," she said.

Gail Stark echoed those sentiments. The 49-year-old is Glasgow-born but lives in Edinburgh. She has already attended events in judo and boxing and been to Hampden for the atheltics. Her husband also travelled to Ibrox for the rugby sevens.

"It was great, we really enjoyed it," she said of the morning diving session. "I think it's fantastic there have been some events in Edinburgh because it has helped Edinburgh people feel involved and feel the excitement."

She was at the diving with her eight-year-old son Lachlan, himself a diver who has ambitions to compete for Scotland one day.

"I've been off the seven metre board here but I haven't been off the ten metre one," he said. And is he a fan of Daley's? "Only sometimes, because sometimes he's not at his best."

Queenslander Meg Sheehan, 13-year-old sister of Australian diver Georgia Sheehan, has no such reservations.

Initially, she admitted to liking Daley "a bit". But is that a little bit or a lotta bit? Her bashful grin widened, indicating the second.

"He's a really good diver. And it's good the supports he gets for having come out (as gay)."

And will she be cheering Daley on, even though he's a Pom? "Yes, definitely. It doesn't matter," she said.

As Daleymania rose in the east, the spirit of the Friendly Games lives on, it seems.

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