Olympics just can’t come soon enough for City of Leeds Diving Club stars
HEAD coach Joe Meszaros has hailed the Olympic buzz at his City Of Leeds Diving Club who have signed off for 2019 by making a triple splash at the British Swimming awards.
Nine months short of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Leeds club scooped a fine treble at this month’s awards in Leicester with Jack Laugher taking ‘Diving Athlete of the Year’.
On the back of becoming overall 3m springboard champion in the FINA World Diving Series, Laugher’s year featured a World Championships bronze in the 3m springboard as well as a silver in the 3m synchro alongside Leeds club-mate Dan Goodfellow.
The duo are both coached by Adam Smallwood, who also took the 2019 ‘Diving Coach of the Year’ award while the Leeds club also saw rising star Anthony Harding take the ‘Diving Emerging Athlete of the Year’ accolade.
Harding’s first year as a senior led to a European Championships 3m synchro bronze alongside Sheffield’s Jordan Houlden and Meszaros says his club are already dreaming of taking medals on the biggest stage of all at Tokyo next year.
With Yona Knight-Wisdom also representing Jamaica, the Leeds club took six divers to the Rio 2016 Olympics in Laugher and his 3m synchro gold medal partner Chris Mears plus Becky Gallantree, Alicia Blagg and Lois Toulson.
“I think we are really starting to feel that buzz now,” said Meszaros, eyeing up the Olympics nine months out.
“It’s literally around the corner. It’s a nice buzz, people are excited and it’s just going to be a case of everyone putting their heads down and pulling together and doing their best for each other to ensure the best results.
“Our aims and aspirations are that we are gunning for those medals. We are capable of it, we have got a really good strong team here at Leeds and with high performance coaches Adam and Marc Smallwood there working with these athletes and us, it’s looking really strong and it’s looking promising.
Reflecting on his club’s treble, Meszaros continued: “Obviously, we are all over the moon. It’s absolutely fantastic for the programme and the athletes and the coaches involved.
“Going into it, I knew we had a pretty strong chance in coming away with something on the back of what Jack, Dan and Adam had done.
“But then Anthony came away with the Emerging Athlete award, too – it’s been his first year on the senior circuit and he’s had an absolute blinder.
“He is in the synchro pair with Jordan in Sheffield at the minute and they have done some really good stuff this year.
“We are talking medals at the FINA Grand Prix series and, most importantly of all, a bronze at the European Championships in Kiev so it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Rio 3m synchro gold and 3m springboard silver medallist Laugher took 2019 by storm with the 24-year-old taking World Series’ golds in the 3m springboard in both London and Kazan following a silver in Montreal and bronzes in both Beijing and Sagamihara. Laugher and Goodfellow also took a 3m synchro bronze in Sagamihara.
Individually, Laugher looked destined to then become 3m springboard world champion at Gwangju in South Korea only to drop down to third on his last dive.