JACK Laugher already has an Olympic gold in his back pocket – but that has not stopped him from targeting a second on Tuesday after he cruised through the preliminary round of the 3m springboard.
The 21-year-old took gold last week in the synchro event alongside Chris Mears and now has set his sights on repeating the trick on his own.
In windy conditions at the outdoor Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre – Laugher finished with a total of 439.95, good enough for seventh in the preliminary round as the top 18 went through.
Laugher won the World Series in this event last year and also has two world bronzes so a second Olympic medal is not beyond the realms of possibility.
And Laugher admits he is feeling confident – even if he would prefer to have his friend Mears on the board with him.
“It was weird coming back out – they are two different events synchro and individual and having your best friend by your side really does soothe nerves,” he said.
“It makes you feel a lot better because being on your own means that you only have your own mind and it can be difficult.
“That was decent – the middle of the pack – I have shown the judged I have got some good dives and I am here to do really well.
“Considering I still can’t believe I have a first medal, to get a second would be an absolute shocker.
“But I have proven myself as an athlete and as diver over the past couple of years – i have won several titles and done well in the worlds.
“It’s not out of my reach but it is about starting anew tomorrow with a brand new set of dives and hopefully it will go my way.”
The diving arena has attracted headlines for the wrong reasons at these Games – the outdoor venue first had the water turn green.
And on Monday in the wind Laugher admitted the conditions were as tough as he has ever faced.
“We had tried to prepare as well as we could , we had a camp outdoors in Tallahasse but it is very hard to prepare for conditions like that,” he added.
I” would have liked to have trained in more wind because that was ridiculous – it’s the worse it has been so far and I have been away from for five weeks now.
“To encounter conditions like that on my competition day was really unlucky but I think I did well and dealt with them.
“I was a bit shaky at the start but then I found my feet.”
But for Laugher’s team-mate Freddie Woodward - from Sheffield - he agonisingly missed out.
With the top 18 divers to go through, Woodward was ninth at the halfway stage but could then only score 52.50 and 64.60 in the last two rounds to finish 19th, 1.75 points behind Russia’s Ilia Zakharov.
Woodward is first reserve for the semi-finals ahead of Japan’s Ken Terauchi, who was awarded just 18 points for a second-round dive completed in high winds which prompted his coach to appeal - in vain - for it to be retaken.
Harrogate’s Oliver Dingley, who is Ireland’s first Olympic diver for 68 years, also became the first from his country to reach a semi-final when he finished 13th overall.
The 23-year-old was in danger of missing out after scoring only 48.00 for his fifth dive, but saved his best until last with 78.20 points in the final round seeing him comfortably advance.
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