Crusaders RL v Salford City Reds - Magic WeekendIf anyone can identify with Olympic diver Tom Daley, it is Gareth Thomas, a former rugby player from Wales who came out as gay in 2009. Thomas was one of many athletes and celebrities to back Daley’s decision to open up about his sexuality. As the Irish Independent reports on December 3, Thomas believes Daley can inspire a new generation of athletes with his courage and honesty.

The 19-year-old Daley opened up about his relationship with another guy through You Tube. There has been an argument through the media on whether there should be a distinction between coming out as bisexual or gay, but it really shouldn’t matter. What Daley did was still courageous and sent a message because there is a perception about bisexual and gay athletes. It is a stigma still being fought and one that Thomas himself has fought.

In his personal blog posted on Sportlobster, Thomas wrote about the significance of Daley coming out as an athlete.

“I don’t think someone coming out is enough – I think it’s his story after coming out that will inspire others. If he goes to Rio and wins the gold medal and has a fantastic life after that it will show other athletes that being honest and open is a good thing to do.”

All of that depends of course on Daley’s ability to focus and concentrate on his goals. Thomas says his youth also adds to his story of inspiration because there are many LGBT youth out there struggling and seeing Daley do what he did leads them to an understanding that they are not alone. It also signifies a change in a more accepting society.

“For him to do it at such a young age is not only testament to him but to society. When I was playing it just wouldn’t have been possible to come out at his age in the rugby world.”

Gareth Thomas did make it clear that Tom Daley only revealed who he is sexually and that it is “not a declaration of who he is as a person.”