Evangulov eyes hat-trick of medals

28 July 2012 / 13:51

Performance director Alexei Evangulov has backed Great Britain to return a record Olympic medal haul in the diving pool.

Evangulov has tipped his 12-member team, headlined by Tom Daley, to grab three medals as the all-conquering Chinese are otherwise set to again dominate at the Aquatics Centre.

Britain's best ever medal haul at a Games stands at two - when they claimed a pair of bronze medals at the 1960 Olympics - while they have never won gold.

Daley stands alone as the man to change that after a career-best six months leading up to the Games that has left some believing he could upset his Chinese rivals.

The 18-year-old will first aim for a podium place in Monday's platform synchro alongside Pete Waterfield before going head-to-head with individual world champion Qiu Bo on the final day of competition.

In between recently-crowned European champions Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow will bid for a podium place in the women's platform synchro.

"We can make medals in three disciplines in reality," Evangulov said ahead of Sunday's first day of diving competition.

"In the platform men individual, and platform synchro and girl's platform synchro - this is a real possibility.

"We have quite a robust team, as never before we are healthy. Psychologically we are very good and our spirit is at a high level.

"The British diving team is very healthy now."

British diving's rude health can be attributed to Evangulov who despite courting controversy during his three-year tenure has helped establish a strength never before seen.

That was underlined when Team GB qualified for all the Olympic places on offer for the first time.

In addition to the headline act of Daley there are upcoming stars - in what is the youngest diving team of all at the Games - with 17-year-old Jack Laugher an outside hope on the 3m springboard after a breakthrough year.

After reaching the final of last year's World Championships he was touted as a future world champion by American diving great Greg Louganis and, while London may have come too soon for him, it will offer a significant boost to his development.

"He has progressed greatly. You will be impressed by Jack's diving," Evangulov said.

"He is one of the future. For now we must remember diving is unpredictable and anything can happen."

Daley will bid to make tangible Team GB's apparent diving strength with a medal alongside Waterfield on Monday in the platform synchro.

Waterfield, attending his fourth Olympics, was a silver medalist in the discipline alongside Leon Taylor in 2004 - Britain's only diving medal since 1960 - and offers the gritted experience to Daley's young star.

It is a slightly odd couple - with Daley closer in age to father-of-two Waterfield's youngest son - but one that has clicked on the back of their competitive desire.

"He is closer to my son's age than mine," Waterfield said.

"I've got an 11-year-old boy and even he tells me to go away some times so I don't want to cramp Tom's style. He's a good-looking lad and I'm sure he's got loads of girls after him so he won't want me stood next to him.

"As far as our chemistry we've both got dreams and aspirations - we both want to achieve the same things.

"We're working as hard as we can for each other to hopefully win an Olympic medal.

"When you both get in the pool and realise that you put 100 per cent in.

"We want to win."