Rio 2016: London memories spur Jack Laugher in double Olympic bid for Team GB

Jack Laugher

Jack Laugher

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Jack Laugher says his bitter disappointment at the London Olympics made him a better diver and has spurred him on to become a serious medal contender in Rio.

Laugher was confirmed among six Yorkshire-based divers in an 11-strong Team GB squad for Brazil on Friday where he will have two strong hopes of bringing gold back to his home city Ripon.

The 21-year-old will start as one of the favourites in the men’s 3m springboard and his partnership alongside Chris Mears will put fear among the field in the 3m synchro.

However, it was a different story in 2012 when Laugher’s preparation was riddled with injury and a lack of experience as he crashed out of the 3m springboard.

The then 17-year-old slipped off the 3m springboard in the preliminary stage and saw his hopes of a final appearance dashed in an instant.

“I have those memories still fresh in my head good and bad,” said Laugher at the official Team GB selection press conference in Leeds on Friday.

Great Britain divers pictured at the John Charles Centre in Leeds, from left, Freddie Woodward, Jack Laugher,Chris Mears, Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree.
17th June 2016.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Great Britain divers pictured at the John Charles Centre in Leeds, from left, Freddie Woodward, Jack Laugher,Chris Mears, Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree. 17th June 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“I have learnt a lot and tried to turn the negative experiences on their head to positive ones to make sure those things never happen again. That’s put me in a better place.

“If I had just done average, I may not have learnt many lessons. Not to do so well, it made me a better person.”

Since the disappointment of London, the former Ripon Grammar School pupil has made his mark on the international stage and earned a career highlight last year when winning bronze at the World Championships.

A string of medals on the World Diving Series has put Laugher in the history books and he also won two medals at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh two years ago.

I’m a completely different person and in a completely different place

Jack Laugher

But the London failure will be the motivating factor as he takes to the board in Rio for a second shot at the pinnacle.

Laugher said: “I am in a completely different place to back then.

“I had done just a handful of competitions, now I’m a much more renowned diver. I have won medals all around the world in so many different events.

“I’m a completely different person and in a completely different place.”

Preparations have again been set back by injury as an ankle problem meant Laugher missed the first month of competition in 2016.

However, a 3m synchro gold medal alongside Mears at the European Championships proved his form was back close to his British record-breaking best of 2015.

The City of Leeds members have joined the high-risers of world diving in a breakthrough year and, while previously an individual medal will have been Laugher’s foremost concern, both events now rank in equal capacity.

Unlike the individual, the synchro competition is a straight final with just eight teams – including outsiders Brazil – vying for gold, silver and bronze.

“I know I have got a chance in both of them so I’m looking forward to seeing how they both go,” added Laugher.

“I am feeling like I am in a good place. I haven’t shown my best individually this year because of the injury but at the European Championships, me and Chris absolutely smashed it.

“We feel in a really good place, and I’m hoping to find my form properly at the Olympics.”