Diving: Golden couple Laugher and Mears face ‘trial separation’ as part of preparations for Tokyo 2020

England's Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in action at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
England's Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in action at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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The most successful partnership in British diving history is to be broken up – temporarily.

Olympic champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears are to be separated for a year after Mears decided to take 12 months out of the sport to come back fresh for Tokyo 2020.

The pair became the first Britons to win an Olympic title when they struck gold in the men’s 3m synchro event in Rio two years ago.

The City of Leeds Diving Club members have been inseparable ever since Mears moved up to West Yorkshire in the wake of London 2012 to train full-time alongside Laugher.

They even shared a flat together, and prior to Rio they earmarked where they wanted their gold medals to hang in the house, as a motivational tool.

The temporary split is understood to be amicable, with Mears set to return in the autumn of 2019.

For the next year, Harrogate’s Laugher – who also won the Olympic silver medal in the individual event – will be paired with Dan Goodfellow in the 3m synchro.

Goodfellow won bronze alongside Tom Daley in the 10m platform in Rio but has transitioned to the lower board.

Alexei Evangulov, British Diving’s National Performance Director, explained: “It’s very rare for a platform diver to transition to a springboard dive, never mind into a synchro pairing.

“It is a unique situation and British Diving are very excited about this new pairing of Jack and Dan, and how they will perform together.

“Dan has proven that he can deliver a very high degree of difficulty.

“And the pair have now already started training together with their first sessions at the recent warm weather camp in Antalya, Turkey.”

As Goodfellow heads into the John Charles Aquatics Centre, one man heading out of the city is Leeds’s Matty Lee, whose much-anticipated new partnership with British Diving poster boy Tom Daley has now been confirmed.

Evangulov said: “We looked at several different options of who could join Tom in the 10m Synchro event, including Plymouth’s Matthew Dixon and London’s Noah Williams.

“Our criteria focused heavily on again having a high degree of difficulty to ensure competitiveness on the international stage and Matty Lee was the best fit. Matty was already looking at introducing new and harder dives and that’s why we have chosen him.

“The most efficient synchro practice happens when the pair work and train together all the time and that is why Matty has made the move to London.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the new pairs performing at next February’s National Cup.”