Couch a model competitor

13 July 2012 / 18:14

European champions Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow will dive together for Olympic glory in London - 16 years after they first became friends as schoolkids in a gymnastics class.

The Plymouth-born duo are hotly-tipped to snatch an Olympic medal in the women's 10 metre synchro platform following a record-breaking 12 months.

After finishing fourth at the World Championships last year, 2012 has been a watershed year.

Bronze at the World Cup in February - in world-class company and at the Olympic pool - saw them become the first British female divers to win a global competition medal before they ended this country's 74-year wait for a women's European champion.

It is a remarkable story after their close friendship was established in a gymnastics class in Plymouth when Couch, now 23, was just seven years old.

"It is crazy. We have known each other for so long and now we are going to dive at the Olympics," Couch told Press Association Sport. "She's one of my best friends. We will be rooming at the Olympics - we always do anyway.

"We met in Plymouth in the gymnastics class when I was seven. I dislocated my elbow when I was 10 and started diving instead. Sarah started diving too and now here we are. I can't wait. Who would have thought then that we would be at the Olympics together."

While the duo have known each other for the majority of their life, they were only thrust together as a platform partnership two years ago. After steady progress in the first year together they have blossomed since their breakthrough performance at last year's World Championships in Shanghai, where they were edged out of the podium by just 1.77 points.

Couch believes their close friendship has been key to their success and that it could give them a further edge in front of 17,500 roaring home fans this summer.

"It is really important that you are friends away from the diving board," she said. "It makes things easier when you are doing so many competitions and training and you are constantly around each other."