Baku 2015: British diving success down to 'mental toughness'

Baku 2015: British diving success down to 'mental toughness'

22 June 2015 / 15:22

The legendary golfer Bobby Jones once said his sport was 'a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears' - and it seems the same applies to diving.

British diving is enjoying a season to remember, thanks to the medal winning exploits of Jack Laugher, Tom Daley, Tonia Couch and others on the World Series, the elite events that build up to next month's World Championships in Kazan.

And the young stars hoping to succeed them have clearly been inspired with four golds ensuring they topped the medal table at the European Games in Baku.

Russia was expected to dominate the diving in Azerbaijan but platform golds for Matthew Lee and Lois Tolson and 3m springboard success for James Heatly and Katherine Torrance bucked those pre-Games predictions.

Alexei Evangulov, the Russian charged with leading British Diving towards Rio, has instilled a sense of belief that they can challenge the best in the world and Julian Bellan, the coach who leads his development programme, has proudly watched his charges come of age in recent days.

“We are working hard on technical programmes and Alexei is really giving us a clear direction of what is expected at every level and what we’re aiming for," said Bellan.

"I don’t see it as a breakthrough. It’s something we’ve been working and building on for some time. A number of these kids have been with us through four, five, six, seven years and what we’ve tried to do is build a system which develops good mental skills. You could see the fruits here.

“We’ve been consistently a top two or three team, but I wanted them to step up to the plate his time around and they did. I had meeting with divers and staff and congratulated all of them afterwards because this was an outstanding team effort.

“Without wanting to give anything away to our rivals, the process has been about making our athletes mentally tough. That’s the big thing.

“It’s been about normalising performance, about them showing that performing on a big stage is no different to what they might be doing in training and they really delivered."

© Sportsbeat 2015