Daley's thirst for glory inspired by Waterfield

29 July 2012 / 18:48

Diver Tom Daley has revealed his desire for Olympic glory was first inspired by his platform synchro partner Pete Waterfield.

Daley will bid to win his first Olympic medal alongside veteran Waterfield at the Aquatics Centre on Sunday in a wide-open field in the high board team event.

But as the duo put the finishing touches on their preparations, Daley made the admission that Waterfield's silver medal in the event at Athens 2004 was a major motivation in the early part of his career.

The 18-year-old described the chance to dive alongside father-of-two Waterfield as "surreal" after he recollected tuning in to watch his partner claim Britain's only Olympic diving medal for the past 52 years.

"I was 10 years old when Pete won his Olympic silver medal. I was staying in the family caravan down in Newquay," he said.

"I was sat in the caravan trying to tune the TV in so I could watch it. I was watching the whole thing and thinking 'wow' he's an Olympic silver medallist.

"That is my dream to compete in the Olympic Games and win a medal. I was fortunate to compete in Beijing but not even then did I think I'd be able to compete as a synchro team with Pete after watching him in Athens 2004. It's quite surreal actually."

An Olympic medal is the only major honour to have eluded Daley during his decorated young career so far.

The Plymouth diver was crowned world platform champion as a 15-year-old in Rome three years ago while in May he reclaimed the European title he first won aged just 13.

Daley's European success came in the midst of career-best form, in which he twice improved his personal best, while he was also crowned individual and synchro platform champion at the World Series.

Those performances have prompted belief that Daley could upset his Chinese rivals over the next fortnight, starting on Monday.

Daley and Waterfield will face a fiercely-competitive field, however the Chinese will send out arguably their most vulnerable combination at these Olympics.

Teenage duo Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan will be competing at their first Olympics while they are short on major international experience having only taken over as China's first-choice team since last year's World Championships.

That has opened up the field for the likes of Germany, Russia and Great Britain to potentially steal a rare gold away from the Chinese.

It is a pressure that Daley is welcoming as he looks to fulfil his Olympic dream.

"Pressure isn't a bad thing. I quite like pressure going into a competition," he said.

"Divers either handle pressure or they don't. For me I've had pressure going into competitions for a long time now.

"It's something that I am used to. I've had the Olympic experience in Beijing and had the pressure environment from there.

"For me pressure should bring out the best in you because you have that extra adrenaline rush."

Daley also hinted the pressure of a 17,500 capacity Aquatics Centre could help to knock the Chinese off their stride, adding: "If you put pressure on the Chinese and pressure on other divers then they are more likely to falter.

"It's about whether they've learned to deal with the pressure or whether they've got used to that.

"You take off the board and land in the water in 1.6 seconds. You hit the water at 34mph. In between that gap anything can happen."