Road to Rio: Jack Laugher ready to prove he’s the one to watch

Jack Laugher is a medal hope in Rio
Jack Laugher is a medal hope in Rio
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Four years ago, Jack Laugher left the London Olympics 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 the Aquatics Centre too upset to speak about his disappointment.

But rather than try to forget his tumultuous London experience, Laugher insists he has learned from it as he prepares to head into his second Games in Rio as a genuine medal contender.

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 the 3m synchro alongside Chris Mears.

Harrogate-born Laugher 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 and team-mate Tom Daley, and make him arguably an even better bet to top the podium in Rio.

Laugher and Mears also go into the event as the reigning European champions and he once received the endorsement of one of the greatest divers of all time after four-time Olympic gold medallist Greg Louganis singled him out as a star to watch six years ago.

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. But it is nice to have the recognition that I feel like I deserve. When you have knowledgeable people in the sport telling you just how much you’ve improved, it makes you feel like all the hard work has paid off.”