Daley ready for the pool party as Brit takes centre stage with Waterfield
21:30 GMT, 29 July 2012
Tom Daley has already done the maths, but on Monday afternoon he and partner Pete Waterfield will see if the numbers add up to an Olympic medal on home soil.
Daley, who achieved A grades in his maths ‘A’ level modules earlier this year, knows there is a ‘three in eight chance’ of standing on the podium with Waterfield after the men’s 10m platform synchronised finals, which start at 3pm.
The challenge for the pair is blocking out everything else and concentrating solely on their own performance. A repeat of the British record they achieved at the national diving championships in Sheffield in June would do nicely.
Quest for gold: Tom Daley (left) and that synchro partner Peter Waterfield take to the board on Monday
‘It is such an “on the day” sport,’ said Daley, ‘but statistically it is a three in eight chance of winning a medal in synchro. We have already qualified for the final so it is just about doing a good score.
‘The score we got at the nationals, 475.77, is a big score but you never know what is going to happen with the other divers. They might step up or they might not like the Olympic pressure.
‘I quite like pressure and it gives me that extra adrenaline and will to do it, but then the Chinese (Yuan Cao, 17, and Yanquan Zhang, 18) have been known not to do so well under pressure.
‘It is about going out there, not worrying what anyone else is doing and focusing on your performance.
‘If you hold your nerve and dive consistently then you are going to do well. If you start worrying about what anyone else is doing and you start looking at other people, watching them, seeing what they are doing, then that is when it can start going wrong.’
In sync lads Daley and Waterfield will compete in the men's synchro diving
Daley’s coach, Andy Banks, is confident the 18-year-old ‘can compartmentalise his life’, even though his second Olympic Games comes only 14 months after the death of his father, Rob.
Four-time Olympic diving gold medallist Greg Louganis, the Californian who won two titles at his home Games in Los Angeles in 1984, also believes Daley will use the partisan crowd as an ‘inspiration’.
‘Stranger things have happened than Tom Daley winning the Olympic gold,’ Louganis, now 52 and an advisor to the US diving team, told Sportsmail.
‘Home advantage is all in the interpretation. When you go into the auditorium you feel something and if you interpret it as pressure you’re more apt to implode. But if you interpret that as energy it can inspire you to be more than you ever dreamed you could be.
Stiff competition: Daley and Waterfield must overcome China's Cao Yuan (top) and Zhang Yanquan
‘When you’re at home you’re more likely to use it as inspiration — and I think Tom will do that. You’ve just got to let it go because you don’t want to have any regrets.’
Louganis, who as a 16-year-old won silver at his first Olympics at Montreal in 1976, praised not only Daley’s diving, but the Briton’s composure away from the pool.
‘I’ve met Tom and he’s a great kid,’ he said. ‘I’m very impressed with his diving, but I’m more impressed with him as a person; a young person making his way.
‘I think he’s in a better position than I was in Montreal. I think he’s more aware. I went there aged 16 and wasn’t expected to do well. He’s been on the world stage.
‘That was my introduction. It was totally foreign, but he’s been there. I think he’s got some pretty solid foundations under him.’
Over the last few weeks Daley has seemed particularly eager to emphasise this is not his first Olympic Games. He knows what to expect now and, in 31-year-old Waterfield, has an experienced partner.
Daley has another chance at glory in the individual 10m platform, which starts a week on Friday, but thinks a medal in the synchronised event would be ‘just as special’.
He added: ‘Going into the Olympics (in Beijing) it was the biggest thing I have done. It was my dream to go there and to come seventh in the individual event at 14 was a massive achievement for me.
‘But this year is the first where I have kind of been comfortable with all my dives in competition. The bar has definitely been raised by me. I have become more consistent.
‘I know I have been training as hard as I can, in synchro with Pete and individually.
‘I haven’t missed any training sessions and have been working really hard. Hopefully the results will pay off.’
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