Jack testing out 2012 Olympic pool at World Cup

Ripon's Olympic hope, diver Jack Laugher. (S)

Ripon's Olympic hope, diver Jack Laugher. (S)

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ripon’s Olympic hope Jack Laugher will get his first chance to sample the facilities at London 2012 this coming week.

Laugher is one of five City of Leeds divers taking part in the FINA VISA World Diving Cup.

Alongside Rebecca Gallantree, Sarah Barrow, Hannah Starling and Alicia Blagg, Jack will be competing in the event from February 20-26 which also doubles as the test for the diving facilities at the Aquatics Centre ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The quintet will be taking on the world’s best in the event which also determines Olympic spots for countries in each of the diving categories, with the full Team Great Britain squad taking part in the Games due to be announced in June.

Laugher will be looking to carry on his form from a stellar 2011 which saw the 17-year-old from Ripon become the first British male diver in eight years to qualify for the final of the men’s 3-metre springboard event, finishing in a highly creditable eighth place.

Jack goes into the event in confident mood after winning both the 1m and 3m individual titles at the recent British Gas National Diving Cup in Southend.

Olympian Rebecca Gallantree will be looking to secure a place at her second successive Games when competing in the women’s 3m individual and synchronised events, and tuned up by winning two golds and a silver in Southend.

Sarah Barrow will be competing with 10m synchro partner Tonia Couch of Plymouth the in the London event looking to improve on their fourth-place finish in last year’s world championships in Shanghai.

The duo combined to win gold in the National Diving Cup in Southend.

The two youngest City of Leeds divers taking part in London will be 15-year-old Alicia Blagg from Woodlesford (3m synchro) and 16-year-old Hannah Starling from Alwoodley (3m individual).

The City of Leeds squad again dominated at national level in Southend, winning seven of the nine events and a medal haul of 15 in total. Other notable performances came from Callum Johnstone and Matt Roberts who won the men’s 3m synchro title, while Garforth diver Callum also claimed bronze in the 3m individual.

The City of Leeds divers are all part of Leeds City Council’s Diving Training Scheme overseen by senior diving coach Adrian Hinchliffe and former world champion Edwin Jongejans at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport.

Senior diving coach Adrian Hinchliffe said: “Next week will be an invaluable experience for our divers to compete, feel and see what the Olympic facility is going to be like in the summer. They are all really excited and rightly so.

“It is hugely important too for their development as well as trying to secure as many places for Great Britain at London 2012 as we can.

“We are very proud of them all but what they do in the next few months could make all the difference and they know that. The final countdown to the Olympics really does start here.”

Also competing at the FINA VISA World Diving Cup will be divers from Australia, Russia and the USA who will train at the John Charles Centre for Sport ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Olympic Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk

Jack Laugher has also been part of a smash-hit YouTube video which went viral last week.

Alongside fellow Brit divers Tom Daley, Chris Mears, Tonia Couch, Sarah Barrow, Nicolas Robinson-Baker and Max Brick, the squad took time out from their preparations to perform a dance routine on an Australian beach.