A CLOSE friend of diving duo Jack laugher and Chris Mears said he “couldn’t wish it on better people” following their gold medal triumph.
The pair, members of City of Leeds Diving Club, can look forward to huge celebrations when they return home to their pals in the UK after clinching Great Britain’s first ever diving gold medal.
James Denny, 22, trains alongside the Rio 2016 champions, and said he immediately sent his congratulations in messages with “a few expletives” when their victory became clear.
He told the Press Association: “I’ve never been more proud in my life of them. As soon as they did that last dive I was sending them both a message saying massive congratulations, I just couldn’t wish it on better people really. They utterly, utterly deserved it.”
The biography section of Mears’ website outlines what happened to him in 2009 when he was “given a 5% chance of survival”.
It tells of how while competing at the Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney, he was suffering from glandular fever and had no idea.
“His organs were squeezed by the swelling, and the impact of diving on his body further aggravated this. Eventually this caused his spleen to rupture, resulting in a couple of mini seizures.
“After losing five pints of blood, he was given a 5% chance of survival. For several days his platelet count remained as low as two (enough to die from a paper cut) and he was kept alive by a life support machine. Everyone was told to prepare for the worst.
“Miraculously Chris came round but was told it was likely he would never dive again,” the website says.
Mr Denny, his close friend of around eight years, said: “I’ve spoken to Chris a little bit about what happened to him back in Australia and, you know, he nearly died. To come back from that? People didn’t think he was going to be able to do anything again. They thought he was going to be dependent on drugs for the rest of his life.”
Mr Denny said that to get to where he is now is “incredible”, adding: “He went to London 2012 and had one of the best performances of his career there, and then four years later he’s now an Olympic champion, so it just goes to show doesn’t it?”
Reflecting on how Mears’ family will feel about his success, Mr Denny said: “They’ll be absolutely over the moon with what he’s done. I remember seeing his dad and how he reacted when he was at London. I would love to have been there to see his dad’s reaction tonight when he took home that gold.”
Mr Denny is looking forward to seeing his friends when they return home to the UK.
“I think when they come home that’s when I think it will hit them, what they’ve actually done. I know for a fact as soon as they get home we’re going to all get together as a big diving family, have a big do, celebrate what’s happened, and just have fun,” he said.