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Twitter user arrested after taunting Great Britain diving star Tom Daley about his dead father

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

LONDON – A Twitter user was arrested by British police Tuesday after posting threatening and abusive messages about Olympic diver Tom Daley and targeting him with a taunt about his dead father.

Police forces in Dorset, 75 miles south of London, confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that a 17-year-old had been taken into custody in relation to the incident, which followed Great Britain competitor Daley's fourth-place finish in the men's 10-meter synchronized diving event.

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Britain's Tom Daley (Reuters)

"A 17-year-old man was arrested by Dorset Police officers in the early hours of this morning in a guest house in the Weymouth area," said a police spokesman reading from an official statement. "He is currently held on suspicion of malicious communications and is assisting police with our inquiries."

Daley's father Rob was the driving force behind his son's career and became a well-known figure in the United Kingdom in his own right. Rob died last year after losing his fight with brain cancer and Tom was determined to win an Olympic medal in his honor.

Daley and partner Pete Waterfield slipped into fourth place after an error on their fourth of six attempts spoiled an otherwise consistent performance. Soon afterward, Daley reposted a message from a Twitter user called Rileyy69 that read: "You let your Dad down, I hope you know that."

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Daley added his own message to the retweet, saying: "After giving my all, you get idiot's (sic) sending me this."

Daley has more than 780,000 followers and following his response, his Twitter tormentor was bombarded with messages from angry fans. Yahoo! Sports understands he then threatened one of the respondents, while claiming he would "drown" Daley. He later tried to backtrack by sending an apology.

Police were already preparing to get involved by that point, though, as part of an ongoing crackdown by British law enforcement on social media abuse, particularly that directed toward high profile figures.

Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave, a five-time gold medalist in rowing, has worked with Daley as part of a cross-event mentoring program that was set up in British sports four years ago. Redgrave described the Twitter attack on Daley as "disgusting, absolutely disgusting."

[ Related: Two U.S. diving wins ends drought ]

Daley and Waterfield were seen as one of the home nation's brightest hopes. Their disappointment meant that Great Britain ended Monday's action still searching for its first gold of the Games.

"In this competition, you can't afford to miss any dives," Daley said. "And we missed the fourth dive pretty badly. If we had gotten nine more points on that dive, we would have been on the podium."

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