London News & Search
Olympic champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears are looking to complete their set of major diving titles with World Championship gold this weekend.
The British pair won gold in the synchronised 3m springboard at Rio 2016 last year and are also the European and Commonwealth champions.
Their best Worlds result came two years ago, when they finished third in Kazan.
“It would be sensational and really amazing to add to the titles we already have,” Laugher, 22, told BBC Sport.
The pair are part of a 12-strong British diving squad for the World Championships, which begin in Budapest on Friday.
Laugher, 22, and Mears, 24, are set to compete on Saturday.
‘I have that spark again’
Laugher and Mears both considered quitting the sport after achieving their lifetime dream of becoming Olympic champions, but are now focused on claiming further honours.
“It was an open secret that after I’d done my event [in Rio] I was going to retire,” said Mears, who is also a music producer and songwriter.
“But I came back into training to see how it felt and I’m still passionate about diving and there are still things I want to achieve.”
Laugher added: “I always said that if I was to win the Olympic Games, I would retire instantly so I could quit at the best level.
“Having to compete in the individual event stopped that, but also I have that spark again.”
‘We’re going to go out all guns blazing’
Laugher and Mears were furious earlier this year when long-term coach Ady Hinchcliffe became Diving Australia’s head coach – with British Swimming having initially failed to offer him an improved contract.
But, under the guidance of Adam Smallwood, they have battled through several injury problems to win silver medals – behind Chinese pair Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi – in three of the four World Series events this season.
“Jack and Chris are very experienced in that field and they’ve done plenty of World Series which has helped me transition into the role and they’ve been really successful,” Smallwood told BBC Look North.
Mears, who has struggled with a long-term back injury added: “It’s not been ideal over the past few months, but if I was competing without an injury or little niggle it would be quite rare, so it’s normal and I’ll work through it.”
Laugher said: “We’re so close as a pair as we’ve been through so much together and been there for one another at our darkest times.
“You need someone you trust, so having Chris beside me is just brilliant and although it won’t be easy at the Worlds we’re going to go out all guns blazing and really try to succeed.”
Laugher aims to dominate 3m diving
Laugher also claimed Olympic silver in the individual 3m springboard event and is hoping he can now match the success he has enjoyed in synchronised events.
“I really want to be the person who changes the sport and progresses it,” he said.
“I want to be remembered as one of the greatest in the sport and that’s my aim now to try and remain within the top ranks and prove it wasn’t just a one-off.”
Laugher and Mears will compete in the synchronised 3m event on Saturday, with Laugher set to begin his individual campaign on Wednesday, 19 July.
Olympic medallist and BBC diving commentator Leon Taylor:
“The year after the Olympics is always a leap into the unknown because countries try out new pairings, and a new kid with an experienced diver can all of a sudden create a strong line-up no-one would have predicted.
“Chris and Jack are established, with lots to defend over the next three years, and it will play on their minds as other pairings will look at them differently.
“They need to forget and ignore it though, because they have nothing to prove and have performed well in the World Series already this year.”
London News & Search