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Springboard to success for North Yorkshire diving ace Jack Laugher
11:16am Wednesday 31st October 2012 in Sport
London 2012 may have been a disappointing experience for North Yorkshire diving prodigy Jack Laugher, but a bright future lies in store for the ambitious 17-year-old, writes Nick Wright.
The Ripon schoolboy has already accumulated an impressive collection of medals at junior level, having already won two world and European gold medals in 2010, in addition to British gold in 2011, before competing in the Olympics this year, only his second appearance on the senior stage.
Although he crashed out at the first hurdle, finishing 27th in his three-metre springboard heat despite being tipped to challenge his more experienced opponents, he bounced back admirably at this month’s World Junior Championships in Adelaide, convincingly winning both the three-metre individual springboard and the three-metre synchronised springboard titles, the latter with diving poster boy Tom Daley.
Laugher was delighted with his victories, declaring: “It was brilliant, amazing, coming back with those two titles.
“If anything, it’s better after the Olympics disappointment, as it was important to get back to winning ways again.”
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are Laugher’s next two major targets as he aims to establish himself as a force at senior level.
And he reflects on his showing at London as just another stepping stone to a lofty future, retaining the utmost confidence in his own ability.
“It (London) was a negative experience, but still an experience,” he said. “I will use it in future, and hopefully I can do better next time at Glasgow and Rio.
“I’m currently the best at my age group. If I train hard then hopefully I can continue to be that.”
Laugher’s rational views on his Olympics performance are a measure of the young man’s character and resolve but, nonetheless, he remains as ambitious as ever about his next two major senior events.
“Glasgow should be good, as hopefully the people of Scotland will be supporting us, but I am definitely looking forward to Rio, as it was always going to be my best Olympics.”
After their success in Adelaide this year, speculation has arisen about a possible long-term partnership with Daley, which could represent a glittering future for British diving.
Although Laugher has nothing but praise for his more established team-mate, he is unsure whether or not a competitive association with his fellow wonderkid is viable.
“Competing with Tom was amazing,” he said. “He’s a great ambassador for the sport and a great person to be around, a real laugh.
“But he’s training a lot for ten-metre dives (Laugher specialises in one-metre and three-metre), so there might not be enough time for us to partner together.”
As his fame rises, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that Laugher is still a schoolboy.
His Twitter account, with more than 6,000 tweets and almost 75,000 followers, epitomises in unison his escalating fame and desire to mix freely with his peers.
His training demands can compromise the social life that many others of his age take for granted, but his commitment to his sport shines through.
“People in my year are turning 18 and starting to go out, and I train instead, so it can be hard, but I’m not too fussed, as I have time between competitions to let my hair down,” he said.
Laugher gives off an air of extreme determination and confidence, yet this does not extend to arrogance.
Such qualities will stand him in good stead as he bids to fulfill his potential as British diving’s next world star.