Team GB Exclusive: Confident Couch excited by home comforts
Exclusive

Team GB Exclusive: Confident Couch excited by home comforts

01 May 2015 / 08:06

Looks can be deceiving but don't doubt Tonia Couch's raw blonde ambition.

Couch admits she loves clothes and shopping but she loves medals even more - she's even buying a rail for her dressing room back in Plymouth to hang them on.

And, at the current rate of collection, she might need a bigger house.

Couch won double bronze - in the 10m synchro with Sarah Barrow and individually in the women's platform final - at last weekend's Diving World Series in Kazan.

Which means she arrived at this week's event in London fizzing with even more confidence than usual.

"I didn't expect to win two medals, it was fantastic and I'm totally buzzing," she told TeamGB.com.

"It would be nice to do it again in front of a home crowd and I've been diving really well, so fingers crossed.

"It's amazing to be back at home and to have so many strong medal chances in so many events. As a team we are starting to break up that Chinese dominance.

"This is our pool and it holds great memories for us, we hope that and having all the home support will make us even better." 

Couch and Barrow are now established among the world's elite synchro divers. After finishing fifth at the London Olympics, they are now podium regulars. They became Britain's first female European champions since 1938 and took silver at last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

And this year's key aim is the World Championships in Russia, where improving on their fifth place finish two years ago is the first ambition.

"Medals are amazing to get but we try to focus on our performance," adds Couch. "So for our synchro, Sarah and I wanted to dive well and be happy, not worry where we came.

"We dived well last week and were happy and we ended up in third place, so we’ve just got to keep it going.

"The target for the year is to dive well, score high and not worry what anyone else is doing around us.

"Excitement is building for Rio but at the same time I try not to think about it, I try to think about the competition that is coming up next."

Couch made the transition from promising gymnast to diver as a ten-year old and within three years had become the youngest girl to qualify for lottery funding.

Her eighth and ninth places at the Beijing Olympics and following year's World Championships in Rome were the best results by a British woman in two decades and she's only got better as British diving has continued to punch above its weight on the world stage.

There are few individual sports with such a close knit team spirit as diving. Forged by weeks away from home, they're a travelling band of brothers and sisters which makes returning to London a special point of the season, Tom Daley even cooked a meal for the entire squad at his London flat earlier this week.

Five years his senior Couch first met Daley when he was eight. Despite the age difference they quickly became close friends, growing up together while often far from their families.

"I used to look after him but soon he looked after me," she jokes.

"There are a lot of events in the World Series so you’ve just go to get yourself up for it – we used to have four events but now it’s up to six, which is mad.

"We’re home for two weeks and away for two weeks again, but we’re used to it, we’re adults now."

Former world champion Daley - a bronze medallist at London 2012 - has been the face of British diving since he and Couch made their Olympic debuts in 2008.

But Couch sees many similarities to Daley in 20-year old Jack Laugher, who has established himself as the world's leading springboard diver this season after successive World Series golds in Dubai and Kazan.

"Jack is on form, it’s insane. I don’t think any of us are surprised, I keep saying to him that one day he’s going to be Olympic champion and it’s ridiculous how much more he’s got to give," she added.

"Next year’s Olympics is not too soon for him, he’s on the right track, 100 per cent and he should be getting a lot more media attention than he’s getting, he’s doing fantastic.

"I don’t know if he’ll overtake Tom as the face of diving, they’re both competitors, so they probably won’t let each other take it!

"We’re a very close squad, we’re like a little family, we travel so much together and we’re always in each other’s pockets so it’s nice to know that we’ve got great people and if you want to talk or you’re missing home, they’re there to make you happy."

But this weekend is different. It's all about home comforts, home advantage and, hopefully, home medals.

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

* See the world's best divers take part in the FINA/NVC Diving World Series at the iconic London Aquatics Centre, 1-3 May. Tickets from £7 now on sale at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/diving

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