Exclusive: Mum’s pride after ‘incredible’ Olympic rise of Jack Laugher – but it was nearly very different

Jack Laugher competing. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/ SWPix.com.
Jack Laugher competing. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/ SWPix.com.
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Things could have been very different for Leeds’ Olympic diving sensation Jack Laugher, his mother has revealed.

Jackie Laugher, 52, from Ripon, has spoken of how the 21-year-old discovered his passion for diving by chance after being told to attend lessons during a family trip to Harrogate Hydro.

The City of Leeds Diving Club member’s dramatic rise to the top saw him claim a silver medal in the three metre springboard final last night – just days after winning gold in the synchronised event with Chris Mears.

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Jack’s mum, sister and his former Ripon Grammar School PE teacher have been poolside at the Rio Olympic Games to cheer on the athlete, while his dad looks after the family dog at home.

“He was always really active and it was just really fortunate. We were messing around at Harrogate Hydro and a lifeguard told him to go for diving lessons and it just went from there,” Jackie said.

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears.

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears.

“We are just made up for him. After the rollercoaster ride he gave us doing the prelims and semis it’s a spectacular result.

“We always knew he was capable of it but pulling it all together like that was incredible.”

She said that from an early age Jack showed he was developing quickly. He was walking at eight months and as a toddler earned the nickname “monkey” for regularly scaling climbing gates set up at the stairs of his Ripon home.

His family are travelling home today, while Jack will stay in Rio until the closing ceremony on Monday.

Jackie said the Laughers are planning a “quiet family get together at home” to celebrate Jack’s medal-winning success.

Harrogate-born Jack has told reporters in Brazil that he is adamant his success will not change him once he returns home from the “weird Olympic bubble”.

“You don’t really get how big an achievement it actually is to come away with a gold and a silver,” he said.

“I know everyone’s so proud of me back home but I’m just a normal kid from Yorkshire.

“This is my job and I love it every single day. Nothing’s going to change on my end. I’m looking forward to going back for sure.”