In pictures: Jack Laugher inspires Ripon Grammar School students ahead of Commonwealth Games
Ripon's very own Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher said he is training hard and feeling confident for the Commonwealth Games next month.
During a visit to his old school, Ripon Grammar, yesterday, Jack was quick to inspire students with a spontaneous showcase of his diving skills, and he gave plenty of encouragement to students using the pool.
The event was part of a national drive by official Team England partner npower to encourage schoolchildren to support athletes in the upcoming Australia games.
Jack said: "I'm feeling pretty good, I had a small ankle injury during the off season, and I had an operation which I am currently recovering from, but I've still got four or five weeks before I even leave for Australia so I'm feeling pretty good, training really hard, and trying to keep on top of everything.
"It's been amazing coming back, I always do love coming back to Ripon - there are a lot of people here that are extremely proud of what I've done and watched my story from when I was a kid to where I am now, and it's beautiful coming back here to Ripon Grammar School to see students, and another diver here as well - Oscar Groundwater, who's only young, and starting where I started, and of course to see teachers that I haven't seen since I left over five years ago now, to show them some of the things that I've achieved. I've enjoyed having the opportunity today to try to inspire the next generation."
Proudly watching Jack dive from her seat at the poolside, it was emotional for Sylvia Grice to reflect on how far he has come, having taught Jack to swim from the age of just three and a half.
She said: "I feel so proud, it's incredible what he's achieved. Jack's such a grounded sort of guy - nothing phases him, and he never forgets his roots. He inspires all the kids, they think if he can do it, then maybe I can do it.
"He gives a lot back and is really supportive of other people. He's wonderful with kids, he'll always stop to chat and really encourages them. He's just so down to earth.
"It was when he was five or six I started to get a sense of his diving skills. I find that you can tell if someone is going to be good from how they walk down the poolside. If they walk erect and purposefully it's a good sign."
Jack praised talented 12-year-old diver and Ripon Grammar School student Oscar Groundwater, who has had great success in both regional and national competitions. Jack said: "Oscar has a lot of talent and is already impressing in his diving sessions at Harrogate. Hopefully he will have the same kind of support network that I have been lucky enough to enjoy and can follow his dreams too."
Having the opportunity to dive with Jack Laugher meant the world to Oscar. He said: "It was fun and really inspirational."
The Director of Sport at Ripon Grammar School, Helen Mackenzie, said: "Jack has really inspired a number of our pupils to believe in themselves. We've had really talented sportspeople who perhaps haven't been selected for further honours and Jack has found time to have a quiet word with them to make them realise that ups and downs are all part of the sporting journey.
"He has experienced those tough times and has bounced back to succeed at the very highest level, winning an Olympic gold medal. He has been encouraging kids not to give up and to try again."