Rio Olympics 2016: Jack Laugher goes for gold alongside Chris Mears in 3m synchronised

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears
Jack Laugher and Chris Mears
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Jack Laugher believes European success can transcend onto the world stage when he teams up alongside Chris Mears in the 3m synchronised event on Wednesday evening.

Mears and Laugher won gold at the European Championships earlier this summer and also topped the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years ago.

The duo are ranked fourth in the world and with only eight pairs competing in Wednesday’s final – which will run from 8pm BST - the medal odds are stacked in their favour.

German pairing Patrick Hausding and Stephan Feck head into the Olympics on top of the world rankings and but will face stiff competition from Chinese duo Cao Yuan and Qin Kai - both 2012 gold medallists - who are favourites for the gold.

Russia’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Zakharov won silver at the 2012 Games, where Mears finished down in fifth alongside then partner Nicholas Robinson-Baker.

City of Leeds pairing Laugher and Mears are a general 12/1 shot to claim gold.

Laugher, who sustained an injury at the start of the season, said: “Me and Chris absolutely smashed the European Championships so I think we are looking in a really good place for this one.

“In synchro there is only eight pairs and that includes the pair from Brazil who only finished 19th at the World Cup.

"Realistically, unless they do something fantastic, it’s seven pairs so it’s just like competing on the World Series.

“We have been medalling around the World Series and we won the European Championships, and medalled last year in the World Championships so I put us in a really good place.”

For ex-Ripon Grammar School student Laugher, Wednesday will prove a second chance to comepte at the Olympic Games after a nightmare time in London four years ago.

Laugher left the London Aquatics Centre in tears after an error-strewn performance saw him fail to advance through the first round of the three-metre springboard event.

The then 17-year-old appeared frozen by nerves as he trailed home in 27th place and left too upset to speak about his disappointment.

But rather than try to forget his tumultuous London experience, Laugher insists he has learned from it.

Since London, Laugher has emerged as a frequent medal winner on the World Series circuit and claimed double bronze at the 2015 World Championships in both the 3m springboard and alongside Chris Mears in the 3m synchro.

He said: “I was 17 years old with little competitive experience, I was riddled with ankle and elbow injuries and mentally I was a kid taking it all in and I got overwhelmed by it all.

“But, if I’d sat there for four years thinking how bad it had been, I wouldn’t have improved.

“It didn’t keep me down for long. The problems I had then have now been completely eradicated and I’m at least 10 times a better diver.”

Laugher’s performances in the World Series have seen him emerge from the shadow of long-standing British diving star Tom Daley, and make him arguably an even better bet to top the podium in Rio.

The former Ripon Grammar School pupil, will be one of the favourites to win gold in the individual 3m springboard on Tuesday, August 16 - despite an injury set-back at the start of the 2016 competition season.

Laugher added: “My track record shows that I can definitely win a medal in Rio and I know I am going to be totally prepared for Brazil.

“It’s been nice to be slightly in the shadow for some time so I don’t get all the attention, which is not something I particularly thrive on.”