Jack Laugher and Chris Mears win GOLD at Rio 2016 Olympics and create British diving history

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears with Olympic gold (Photo: PA)
Jack Laugher and Chris Mears with Olympic gold (Photo: PA)
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Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Britain's first ever diving gold medal and Yorkshire's first of the Rio Olympic Games after winning the 3m synchronised springboard.

Laugher, 21, and Mears, 23, led from the halfway stage on a wet evening in Rio and held off late pressure from gold medal favourites China and the USA.

It is the first time Great Britain has ever won an Olympic gold medal in a diving event.

The City of Leeds pair had been fancied for a medal in the 3m synchro having won the European Championships earlier this season.

They totalled 454.32 points from their six dives, finishing with a flourish and their best score of 91.20 in the final round.

USA secured a shock silver after producing the dive of the competition in the final round to score a massive 98.04 - piling the pressure on Laugher and Mears in the process.

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in action during the 3m synchronised final (Photo: PA)

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in action during the 3m synchronised final (Photo: PA)

The Chinese pair of Yuan Cao and Kai Cin required 96 points from their final to nick the gold but they felt the pressure and ended up with a bronze.

Laugher said: “It’s fantastic to win Britain’s first Olympic gold in diving. We only found out that it was the first gold medal before the podium.

“It’s one of the first on springboard as well so we’re so overwhelmed with what we’ve done, what we’ve done this year, especially with all the setbacks and with the massive risk of putting in that hard dive into our list.

“The dreams happened and it’s paid off and we’re ecstatic with how we’ve done.”

The moment the Chinese scores were announced as Laugher and Mears celebrate (Photo: PA)

The moment the Chinese scores were announced as Laugher and Mears celebrate (Photo: PA)

Laugher and Mears made a composed start and placed second behind China after the opening two mandatory dives with scores of 52.80 and 53.40.

Cao and Qin then produced a below par effort in their forward 2½ somersault 2 twists and allowed Laugher and Mears to go into the lead at the half way point.

The inward 3 1/2 somersaults has notoriously been the pair's bogey dive but they scored 85.68 in round four to extend their advantage at the top.

But the Chinese pair set up a tense finale with the best dive of the fifth round, closing the gap to Laugher and Mears to three points with an impeccable reverse 3½ somersaults to score 90.30.

Jack Laugher broke down in tears of joy - four years after he exited the London Aquatics Centre with tears of devastation (Photo: PA)

Jack Laugher broke down in tears of joy - four years after he exited the London Aquatics Centre with tears of devastation (Photo: PA)

Going first of the medal contenders in the final round, the US pair of Dorman and Hixon piled the pressure on the Laugher and Mears with a sensational final dive.

But the Brits responded with 91.20 to guarantee themselves of a silver medal with only the Chinese pair capable of taking gold away.

And the pressure told on Cao and Cin as they could only make 83.22 to spark the celebrations in the British camp.

Chris Mears said: “The Americans definitely put the pressure on us and they were quite vocal about it and quite emotional.

“But we just stayed in our zone. We didn’t know how many points we needed because we weren’t concentrating on that. All I concentrated on was landing on my head on my dive and I did that. And so did Jack so we came out on top.”

Harrogate-born Laugher showed an outpouring of emotion as the scores were announced after winning gold four years after a heartbreaking performance at the London Olympics in 2012 - where he slipped off the board and blanked his final dive in the individual 3m springboard.

Laugher and Mears live together in Leeds and have become best friends in their synchro partnership (Photo: PA)

Laugher and Mears live together in Leeds and have become best friends in their synchro partnership (Photo: PA)

All that can now be forgotten, however, as he will return to North Yorkshire with a gold medal to add to his two Commonwealth golds of 2014.

Laugher can still add another Olympic medal to his collection when he dives in the 3m springboard next week.

The opening qualifying round takes place on Monday with the final set for Tuesday evening - 10pm BST.

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.

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