Diving: Ripon teenager nominated for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award

Jack Laugher.
Jack Laugher.
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Nominated for the BBC young sports personality of the year award and the eighth-best 3m diver in the world – no wonder 16-year-old Leeds lad Jack Laugher is “buzzed”.

Buzzed and very soon tanned with a three-week training camp in Australia the perfect end to a magnificent year.

Laugher, of the City of Leeds Diving Club, is being dubbed “the new Tom Daley” after bursting on to the global stage with a superb performance at this year’s World Diving Championships in Shanghai.

And that eighth-placed finish now has the Ripon-based teenager on the same shortlist as Daley to be named BBC young sports personality of the year.


The winner will be presented with the award on Thursday, December 22 – and Laugher can be expected to be looking in peak health for the ceremony with a three-week diving camp Down Under.

With the very real prospect of winning an Olympic medal, 2012 could yet be even better but for now Laugher is satisfied to sit back and reflect on what he admits has been a whirlwind year.

“I’m absolutely buzzed and I really can’t ask for more,” Laugher told LS1 when asked about his year.

“It’s been a great year, I’ve really come on as a diver and when I came eighth in the World Championships in Shanghai it exceeded all my expectations. That was a national personal best as well.

“To be eighth in the world at my age is a pretty good feeling and it does feel good when you say it! But it still hasn’t really sunk in, to be honest.

“As for being nominated for the BBC award, I’m really proud and very, very happy.

“To be recognised for such a prestigious award is overwhelming. To be alongside such sporting names as Tom Daley, Ellis Symonds and Laurie Robson is amazing.”

Laugher, understandably, is now regarded as the City of Leeds Diving Club’s brightest hope for a medal at next year’s London Games, which is saying something given the thriving club’s strength in depth.

Laugher, though, will only be 17 when the national showpiece comes around next summer and admits that it will likely be the 2016 Games in Rio and the 2020 extravaganza when he will be at the peak of his powers.

“I’d just love to make the final at next year’s Olympics,” said a cautious Laugher.

“That would be amazing, especially in front of my home crowd and having so many people behind me.

“If I could do what I did in Shanghai or do even better that would be brilliant but just making the Olympics is an achievement anyway.

“Obviously a medal is the aim and that’s what I’m going for but maybe 2016 or 2020 will probably be when I am in my prime.”

Not that Laugher is far off being the best there is, even at 16, with the youngster also relishing the tag as the new Daley, as opposed to being overawed by it.

“It is great to be compared to such an amazing diver who has already done so much in the sport,” said Laugher.

“He won a world medal at what– 14 or 15? That’s absolutely crazy.

“I would love to follow in his footsteps and it does feel good to be compared with him.”

Whatever the future holds it has been some story for Laugher who only began diving aged seven after being spotted by a lifeguard at Harrogate’s Hydro pool.

Laugher doesn’t even know who that lifeguard was but suffice to say he is pretty grateful.

“I was seven when I started and I’d been doing swimming since I was three,” he said.

“I’d been doing gymnastic a little bit as well – a bit of a combination of the two but a lifeguard just spotted me diving off the side of the pool.

“He said you should probably start diving so I did and I progressed pretty quickly. That was basically it.

“I’ve no idea who the lifeguard was but he’s done a lot for me.”

There are, though, complications to the Laugher success story – notably fitting in his A-level studies at Ripon Grammar as well as the small matter of having a social life.

Still, somehow he still manages it – and given Laugher’s success that certainly does not surprise.

“I’m still at school and I’m doing my A-levels this year – I’ve had to do my A-levels over three years,” he said.

“I do half a day every single day at the school and then the rest of the day I do diving so it is a little hard to fit in school work and diving and also to fit in a social life as a 16-year-old.

“But I’m getting by and Ady (Hinchliffe, his coach), has been good with my programme as I get Friday afternoon off and Sunday as well.”

“I like watching TV, going out with mates and playing on my Play Station – the normal stuff that any other 16-year-old lad does.”

Only not every 16-year-old is the eighth best diver in the world, nor do they get the luxury of spending three weeks in December Down Under!

“There’s about seven of us,” said Laugher. “It involves a week in Sydney and two weeks in Adelaide, so I’ll get a bit of a tan before Christmas!”

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