Leeds medals are “on the cards” at the Rio 2016 Olympics after a superb city showing at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
That’s the view of City of Leeds Diving Club coach Ady Hinchliffe – whose talented squad helped Leeds finish above Jamaica in the medal table.
Hinchliffe and his team arrived back in Leeds by train yesterday afternoon, complete with eight medals of which five were gold.
Jack Laugher scooped two of them – in the 1m springboard and also 3m synchro with team-mate Chris Mears – efforts backed up by the superb 3m women’s synchro victory of Alicia Blagg and Becky Gallantree.
With James Denny bagging silver in the 10m synchro alongside Tom Daley and Hannah Starling also claiming 3m springboard bronze, Hinchliffe admits his squad were “buzzing” yesterday en route to Leeds who as a city brought home more medals than Jamaica.
Nicola Adams, Alistair Brownlee, Jonathan Brownlee, Victoria Holland, Gabby Adcock and Nile Wilson were the city’s other gold-getters with all eyes now on the Rio Olympics in 2016.
And if diving supremo Hinchliffe has his way the medals will also be brought home from South America.
He insists his squad are well enough prepared to deal with the growing expectation.
Indeed, the city’s divers can hardly be accused of resting on their laurels with two days off followed by a return to training on Thursday ahead of this month’s European Aquatics Championships in Berlin.
“The pressure’s on but we don’t mind that,” a beaming Hinchliffe told the YEP.
“The big target is Rio – that’s what we want to do – and if we are loading events like we did at the Commonwealths then the likelihood of us striking an Olympic medal which is what we’re really after is on the cards.
“In the meantime we have got the World Series again next year and the World Championships so really it’s about keeping our world ranking as high as we can as we get closer and closer to Brazil.”
Hinchliffe and his assistant Edwin Jongejans have taken the Leeds club from strength to strength though success is nothing new for the club with Hinchliffe saying the Glasgow haul and Leeds success story reminded him of the Melbourne Commonwealths in 2006. Only, from a medal perspective, this was even better.
“We’re buzzing,” admitted Hinchliffe.
“People have been saying on Twitter that the Leeds sports medals would have put us 11th – just with the medals from our city – and I think it’s great when you contribute on that level.
“We’ve done that before back in Melbourne when Tandi (Gerrard) won her bronze and Callum (Johnstone) and Becky (Gallantree) as well but this time we have really impacted and it feels good to be part of a multi-sport event where you are contributing to the overall result. I think we would have come second with just the Leeds divers in the diving medal table so it’s quite a result for us!”
Hinchliffe’s team thoroughly deserve their short rest before heading to the Europeans in Berlin.
That event comes only three weeks after the Diving World Cup in Shanghai from which the team flew back for the Commonwealths, not withstanding an emergency landing and overnight stay in Siberia.
Hinchliffe revealed: “I’ve given them a couple of days off because with the flight ordeal that we had in between these two events it’s been quite a taxing month. We’ve got a couple of days to rest up and Jack’s doing a bit of media plus we’ll be catching up with families and that sort of stuff.
“But then we’ll be back to training on Thursday ready for the Europeans which start on August 14. They’ve all got holidays after that but for now it’s back to the grind!”
Tweets were plentiful from Leeds’ returning sporting stars yesterday with diving ace Starling tweeting: “So sad Commonwealth Games is over. Been the most amazing trip, One I will never forget. So much fun and excitement...Back to reality now. But cannot wait to be home to see all family and friends. Thanks so much everyone for all the support! It’s been awesome!”
Rising gymnastics star Wilson quipped: “Travelling back to Leeds for a few days rest. I still can’t believe I got to meet Gary Lineker.”