Tom Daley will rise to the occasion in Rio, says mentor Leon Taylor

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

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Tom Daley can thrive on the neutral ground of Rio as he aims to deliver Olympic gold next summer, according to mentor Leon Taylor.

The 21-year-old Briton won individual bronze in the 10m platform event and team gold with Rebecca Gallantree at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Russia.

Taylor – himself an Olympic silver medallist from the 2004 Athens Games alongside Peter Waterfield in the synchronised 10m – helped guide Daley earlier in his career.

The 38-year-old, an ambassador for the SportsAid Charity, has every confidence Daley can thrive in Brazil next summer, four years on from winning Olympic bronze in the pressure cooker of London 2012.

“Tom is 21 now, but this will be his third Olympic Games, which is extraordinary when you think about it,” Taylor told Press Association Sport.

“He has been in the media spotlight since he was 11, was the youngest member of Team GB in the Beijing Olympics at 14, and the experience he has now as both an athlete and young man is showing in the way he conducts himself, with such maturity and professionalism in everything he does.

“The results at the World Championships in Russia show that, and firmly put him in for the mix at the medals at Rio.

“Going into the Games, a lot of the athletes will be feeling the excitement of it as not being a home Games, which in itself brings extra pressure, especially in a sport like diving, where there is a lot of anxiety involved anyway. To add that extra emphasis can be quite challenging.

“I know Tom did find that in London, but rose to the occasion. Now he has got through that with such success, he will be going into an Olympics on neutral ground, coming up against the Americans and Chinese, but it means no-one will have the advantage now, and so it will be a real diving display.”

Taylor’s Olympic diving medal was the first for Britain since Brian Phelps in 1960, but he expects plenty more to follow – and not just from Daley following a record total of four medals at the world championships.

“It is no longer just the Tom Daley show, because British Diving is in the best state it has been,” Taylor said.

“Someone who is now starting to get towards their potential is Jack Laugher, the springboard specialist, who can leave the world’s best divers in their wake when he is on form.

“So coming into Rio, we have multiple medal chances across events for both men and women, then with the results the juniors are also getting, it is wonderful to think that for Toyko in 2020 we are not going to see a dip, it is going to be a very buoyant time for British Diving.”

SportsAid, whose patron is Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, will host its annual gala charity dinner, the SportsBall, in London on November 5.

Almost two-thirds of Team GB at London 2012 were former recipients of support from the charity, which offers financial assistance to athletes mostly between the ages of 12 and 18, across some 75 different sports.

Taylor said: “SportsAid are continuing to help fund that hero factory, finding the next big name in all these different sports, providing the support they can.

“It is all well and good when you have made it at elite level for someone to give you help – but how do you get there in the first place, to give more people the opportunity to get closer to their dreams?

“Getting that support so early on makes a huge difference – you just have to look at the list of athletes who have been helped down the years, and many of them will be at Thursday’s dinner to show support for the charity.”

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

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