Harrogate's Olympic diving ace Jack Laugher 'coming out the other side' of his battle with anxiety
The 28-year-old former Ripon Grammar School pupil has recently been selected as part of an 11-strong Team GB squad that is headed to next month’s World Aquatics Championships in Japan.
And the 2016 3m synchro Olympic gold-medalist insists that his preparations for this next competition – and the 2024 Games – are going well as he “comes out the other side” of what he describes as a “dark” period of his life.
Laugher has spoken candidly in the past about his struggles with anxiety both in the build-up to and during the Tokyo Olympics, but is now enjoying life on the boards once again.
“Everybody watches the Olympics and they see these robots diving, running, doing gymnastics and all these amazing sports and everyone just thinks ‘wow, these people are superhuman’, but no-one potentially stops to think about how difficult it can be, how lonely the world as an athlete is,” he told Team GB’s YouTube channel.
"Going into Tokyo I was underprepared mentally, I struggled going in. I had a bit of a rough year coming into it and I’m really really proud of what I managed to do out there, how I managed to hold myself together, to compose myself. To get a bronze medal is honestly an unbelievable achievement for where I was in my career.
"It was a really difficult time. I don’t think that I ever truly was going to actually quit, but those thoughts had crept in because I wasn’t enjoying my training, I was really struggling with diving, things were going wrong and I couldn’t figure them out.
"When you’ve got to come in day in, day out, you are hurting yourself, you are scared to be here, anxious about being on a diving board. It’s a horrible place to be and it makes you feel very lonely, and almost scared in a way.
"It was a horrible time that I had to go through but now I feel like I am on the way out, I feel like I’m coming out the other side, which is really nice I’m enjoying the sport again.
"This is my job, but for me, the main thing is the enjoyment part. When I was a kid I used to absolutely love it. I went through a bit of a rocky period during Covid, but I’m on the other side now and it is a great place to be.”
Next month’s World Aquatics Championships take place between July 14 and 30 in Fukuoka.