JACK Laugher believes there are promising signs for the season ahead as he and fellow Olympic champion Chris Mears marked their first appearance since Rio 2016 with victory at the British National Cup in Plymouth.
The duo made history last summer when they became Great Britain’s first diving Olympic champions after finishing top of the pile in the men’s 3m synchro.
What followed was two and half months off from the sport, with the two enjoying their moment in the spotlight with trips to various awards evenings and MBEs in the Queen’s New Years Honours list.
It’s back down to business now though and with the World Series starting in Beijing next month followed by the World Championships in Budapest in July, Laugher and Mears put in an encouraging performance at the Plymouth Life Centre on Friday night with a score of 415.02.
Laugher also took gold in the 1m springboard earlier on Friday with a score of 395.40 before withdrawing from Saturday’s 3m springboard due to a slight injury concern.
“It was brilliant to start the season out so positively, 415.02 is a great score, especially as we’re only in February now so we’ve got a long way to go til the World Championships,” said Laugher after the 3m synchro.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, but it’s a really positive start.
“Coming off the Olympics being our last competition it was a bit daunting, but I think we had a really positive performance and I’m really happy with how it’s gone.
“We’ve both just had about two and a half months off, it was well needed, and well deserved really.
“Obviously we do sport day in and day out and we’re pushing ourselves every day. Coming up to the Games it was a really stressful time.
“It was a well-needed break to relax and re-gather ourselves to get back to where we needed to be so we can start fresh and we’re wanting to become better every day.
“It was a bit difficult coming back, but we enjoyed ourselves and we had a good time.”
There was plenty of other success for the City of Leeds Diving Club who were backed by a vocal following in Plymouth.
Lois Toulson picked up two golds – in the 10m mixed and 10m women’s synchro – and a bronze in the 10m platform while fellow Rio 2016 Olympian Dan Goodfellow was fourth in the men’s 10m platform.
Katherine Torrance walked away with three titles after victories in the 1m and 3m individual springboard and also the 3m synchro alongside new partner Grace Reid.
“I’m ecstatic. This is my first individual British title so I’m really happy to get it on 1m,” said Torrance after her first gold.
“To be junior World Champion, I had a bit of pressure but I’m glad I got it in the end.
“Training has been going well, I’m not one to feel too confident before a competition. But I definitely thought of it as an opportunity and to go for it.”
And Matty Lee was the other half of the 10m mixed partnership alongside Toulson who stunned experienced divers Tom Daley and Tonia Couch to take the title.
He rounded off the whole weekend with silver in the men’s 10m platform behind Noah Williams, scoring a personal best 109.15 on his final dive to finish on 471.85 but still being pipped to the title.
“It’s a weird one, I’m ecstatic that I scored over a 100 points for a dive, I’ve never done that before in my entire life,” he said.
“I know I can do some of my other dives better than that. To be able to compete like that is a massive confidence boost for the future.
“I did think that I had got the gold after that final dive but fair play to Noah, to be the last diver in the whole event and follow a diver of 109, is very hard but he did a great job.”
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