THERE ARE inevitably times when it’s necessary to rip up the front page and start again, more often than not due to some dreadful late breaking news incident.
No bleak news on Wednesday night, however. No, indeed. In fact, racing a deadline to get this particular story on the front was an absolute pleasure for our team.
It is invariably the most unexpected gold medals which are the most heartwarming – and this mantra certainly applies to Leeds-based Jack Laugher and Chris Mears after they became the first British divers in history to win the Olympics.
Though their self-confidence never faltered – their motivation was an empty photo frame only to be filled when they won the Olympics – it is only now that their prowess can be appreciated, and celebrated, by the watching millions left spellbound by their nerveless performance in the Rio rain. And it’s a success which can only inspire a generation after they beat their great friend and inspiration Tom Daley to top spot on the one winner’ podium which still matters most of all in global sport.
Born in Harrogate, and raised in Ripon, the hyperactive Laugher started diving for fun as a mischievous seven-year-old while Mears is lucky to be alive after a ruptured spleen, suffered during a competition in Australia in 2009, left him with just a five per cent chance of survival. No wonder they could not hold back the tears – they, and their families, had sacrificed so much for six dives which would define the rest of their lives.
Indeed Laugher’s father David watched the defining moments at home with the family dog Alfie because his presence on the poolside can be a jinx.
Yet it is these endearing stories which show the power of the Olympics – Mr Laugher was stopped in the street because a stranger recognised the dog from his son’s Twitter feed and there was certainly an added spring in the step of those divers trying out the sport at the John Charles Centre in Leeds where Britain’s diving demons were trained to perfection.
The challenge now, as Britain’s medal charge gathers pace after rowing veteran Katherine Grainger came out of retirement to become the UK’s most decorated female Olympian, is to ensure that the country’s sports facilities are geared up to welcome all those youngsters who now have new heroes and heroines to emulate. That would mean as much to Jack Laugher and Chris Mears as their gold medal – and the photograph which will now take pride of place in their home after a success like no other.
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