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Evangulov praises young divers

19th October 2012

National Performance Director Alexei Evangulov has praised the ‘amazing’ performance of the British divers at this month’s World Junior Championships in Adelaide.

The Brits achieved their most successful World Juniors to date in Australia, picking up six medals including three golds as they finished second in the overall medal table behind China.

I'm very proud and frankly, we didn't expect to be second after China - six medals is a really amazing performance.

And Evangulov, who took over as performance director after the Beijing Olympics in 2008, admitted the potential of Britain's divers gave him hope that Great Britain could continue their progression towards one of the top five nations in world diving.

"It was an amazing performance to beat such strong nations such as the USA, Russia, Australia and Mexico," said Evangulov.

"I'm very proud and frankly, we didn't expect to be second after China - six medals is a really amazing performance.

"The dream is to be challenging China at the top of course but the reality is we have set our targets to become the second nation in Europe behind Russia and maybe top five in the world.

"In Beijing, we were 14th in the world and in London this year we were seventh. So if we can make it into the top five in Rio, it will be a great result."

Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley dominated to claim the individual platform title in Adelaide but the 18-year old was also a shock springboard champion, teaming up with Jack Laugher to claim 3m Synchro gold.

And while Evangulov insists Daley has the talent to win individual springboard titles in the future, he admits Daley and Laugher's immediate success had taken even him by surprise.

"Frankly speaking, I didn't plan a gold medal on Tom and Jack," said Evangulov.

"Tom is a professional platform diver and it was more of a fun experiment. They'd only been training together for a couple of weeks as well so I told them that if they didn't mess up completely, I would be happy.

"Then they made a medal, and not just a medal. They made gold - it was so amazing. When a platform diver makes a medal on springboard, it's something special.

"A couple of years ago we discussed with Tom his springboard career and he didn't believe it was possible for him to dive springboard.

"I showed him a couple of great examples from diving history such as Xiong Ni and Dmitry Sautin who came down to springboard from platform and continued their careers.

"I told Tom he had to believe he can become a good springboard diver as well. He was laughing then but now you can see this is a reality."

While Daley's focus will remain platform for the forseeable future, Laugher is already a proven contender on the springboard and won individual 3m gold and 1m silver on top of his synchronised gold in Australia.

When a platform diver makes a medal on springboard, it's something special.

And Evangulov admits the 17-year old World Championship finalist showed impressive mental strength to bounce back so quickly after missing out on the 3m Springboard semi-final on his Olympic debut at London 2012.

"It was very important for Jack from a psychological point of view because his performance at the Olympic Games was a very strong psychological injury for him," said Evangulov.

"So we are very happy that his spirit is restored after this result.

"But speaking about Jack in the Olympics, I didn't expect a really good result because of his lack of experience.

"He's a very strong diver, with great potential but he was too young for a good Olympic result in London. But we hope and I believe he will be great with a huge psychological strength and experience in Rio."

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