As incentives go, a picture of yourself on the top step of a medal podium that also includes the most successful British diver in history takes some beating.
This is exactly the image that hangs on the wall of the house that Jack Haslam inhabits, one that reminds the 23-year-old from Sheffield of what he was once capable and what he might still go on to accomplish.
Because the person he is pictured beating is Jack Laugher, who at the Rio Olympics created history by becoming the first Briton to win a gold medal when teaming up with Chris Mears in the 3m synchro springboard, before going on to claim a silver in the individual event.
“It’s from 2009, maybe earlier,” begins Haslam, “and there’s me with a gold medal and Jack Laugher with a silver and you think, ‘bloody hell, he’s now an Olympic champion’.
“I’ve grown up with Jack, we were in the same age group and competed with each other for years. That’s a cool accolade, growing up with the best.”
One day soon Haslam hopes to beat the best once again. That he has not done so for many years owes much to the incredible rise of Harrogate’s Laugher as much as Haslam’s battle with injuries and interests outside of the sport.
I’ve grown up with Jack, we were in the same age group and competed with each other for years. That’s a cool accolade, growing up with the best.Jack Haslam
A back injury kept Haslam sidelined for the best part of three years at a time in his life when he was also studying for a degree in Sheffield.
Upon graduation Haslam –who was already twice a national champion on the springboard – found himself at a crossroads.
“I was umming and ahhing about what to do. I’d had a bit of a tough time with diving and I was at a point in my career where I had to do something otherwise the selectors wouldn’t pick me for events,” he says.
“So with the Commonwealth Games coming up the following year I decided I would give diving everything I had.”
The decision to dedicate himself to his craft at the City of Sheffield Diving Club’s facility at Ponds’ Forge paid dividends. He won the national title at the start of 2018 in his favoured 3m springboard and then went to the Commonwealth Games in Australia where he finished fifth alongside his younger brother Ross in the 3m synchro.
The winners? Laugher and Mears, who else? But the Haslam brothers, and Jack in particular, had proved they belonged.
“I’m glad I made the choice to focus on diving,” he says. “Going to the Commonwealth Games is no mean feat so to have achieved that I’m very happy.
“To be able to focus on one thing instead of university as well has helped massively. I feel reinvigorated. I’ve grinded away and I’m back at the top of the British game. Now I’ve got to get to the top of the international game.”
One man Haslam will continue to watch closely as he attempts to build up his international reputation in 2019 is his old rival Laugher.
“The Commonwealth Games was my first major event so there was a lot of excitement there, and a lot of learning,” explains Haslam. “Having mates watching me on television, message me saying good luck, just being on social media with the following growing and the messages you receive, that was new for me.
“Speaking to Jack, he deletes all his social media apps and tries to take himself away from it. That was something I took from him. As is just watching Jack. He believes in himself no matter what and he’s not frightened to say what he thinks. That self-belief is part of the reason why he’s done so well.”
Haslam’s goal in 2019 is to retain his British title in the Spring and then seal a spot on a world championship team for the first time later in the summer.
Doing so with brother Ross, 21, would be an added bonus.
“I don’t think many people can compete alongside their siblings at that level of sport,” says the senior Haslam. “If anything Ross has more experience than me due to me having that back injury, he’s done loads of events, so I’m still learning stuff off him.
“But we’re pushing each other constantly.
“You get home and you’ve got the same goals to talk about, the same diet, it just makes it easier.
“Motivation for an athlete can sometimes be hard, but if your brother’s raring to go in a morning it’s a case of ,‘if you’re doing it, I’m doing it’. I love doing synchro with my brother, it’s a special thing to say you’re able to do.”