LEEDS diver Matty Lee already has an impressive collection of medals for a 20-year-old.
A European Championships mixed synchro silver was added to the haul back in June but for Lee 2018 did not deliver what it promised.
For the second time in a row, injury again ruined the diver’s Commonwealth Games with Lee left pondering what might have been at two Commonwealths and an Olympics having narrowly missed selection for Rio 2016.
Unfinished business for a diver who hopes the move to Dive London to partner Tom Daley will finally take him to the sport’s biggest stage whilst also progressing his own bid for individual glories.
City Of Leeds Diving club star Lee ended his 2018 season on a high by bagging silver alongside Toulson in the mixed synchro event at June’s European Championships in Glasgow.
The mixed synchro event will not form part of the diving programme at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics though the recently introduced competition could make its Olympics debut four years later at Paris 2024.
This whole thing with Tom has motivated me so much this year and I can’t wait to get going.Matty Lee
In any case, Toulson and Lee both have their individual and synchro disciplines to concentrate on with Lee now set for an exciting new venture as a synchro diver teaming up with three-time World Champion and double Olympics bronze medallist Daley as the diver’s new 10m synchro partner at Dive London. For proud young Yorkshireman Lee, that will mean a move to the country’s capital – though one that has worked out well with his girlfriend Millie Young also moving to London to start her studies at the University of Westminster. Having been frustrated by a triceps injury before this year’s Commonwealths, Lee, meanwhile, knows he is about to be presented with his best chance ever to graduate to the sport’s main stage.
“There’s always more to come and I am more ready for it than ever,” Lee told the YEP.
“I feel like I have got so much to prove and I have just never been given a chance and I feel like I have finally been given a chance.
“I feel like the next two years are going to be exciting.
“The highlight of this year was definitely the Europeans with the silver medal with Lois.
“With the whole season, though, it was a bit of a tough one for me and I am not happy with most of it apart from the Europeans in a way.
“At the Commonwealths, I got injured two days before my event and I hurt my triceps which meant I couldn’t lock my elbows out so my entries were just terrible.
“That was really gutting because finally I had got to a Commonwealths whereas in 2014, I wasn’t able to go because I had surgery on my elbow. Then I finally get to one and I am training really well and I felt like ‘hell yeah, this is the one.’
“It’s been a bit of a tricky year but the last segment of the year was good and it was good to have that good last competition to spur you on to the next.
“Luckily now everything is all good. This whole thing with Tom has motivated me so much this year and I can’t wait to get going.”
Lee is still in the process of finalising the logistics of his move to London with the diver set to be living in a specially set aside apartment in Stratford through British Swimming for athletes training in the capital.
Lee will be paired with the sport’s biggest name and a household name in Daley but the duo have been friends for many years.
“I have known Tom for years now and he is a really good friend,” said Lee. “I don’t look at him like a celebrity. But it will be special and it will help me out with my career as well. He has a very big following on everything so his following will trickle down into my following.”
Lee, though, is also targeting further improvement as an individual diver with the Moortown-based star not turning 21 until next March and well within his rights to dream not just of Tokyo 2020 but also Paris 2024 and even Los Angeles 2028.
“It would be nice to go to that one and I will try and hold on to my body and hopefully my body will stay together,” said Lee.
“But we just have to take every cycle at a time. I was so close to going to Rio and obviously didn’t and I was gutted, we all know that story.
“Without this move to London with Tom, I would have still fully gone for Tokyo and tried my hardest to get there as an individual and I think I am on the right path with that anyway but with this happening it’s almost a relief.
“It doesn’t mean I am definitely going to go to Tokyo and do synchro because you never know what happens but it’s just a relief that I have been recognised and that Tom wants to do synchro with me. He is a very successful diver and I can’t wait to be successful with him as well.”