Jack Laugher confident he has 'got what it takes to go all the way' at Tokyo Olympics
Jack Laugher’s preparation for Tokyo 2020 may not have been ideal, but Team GB’s most-decorated current diver still believes he has “got what it takes to go all the way”.
The 26-year-old Yorkshireman dominated in Rio five years ago, winning gold and silver, but failed to secure a medal of any kind in the same 3m springboard events at the European Aquatic Championships back in May.
His failure there, just a few days on from snatching a silver in the 1m springboard almost sums up his inconsistent form since his glorious Olympic summer five years ago and Laugher himself is all too aware that he has not been performing regularly enough at the level expected of him.
He is however motivated to deliver once again on the biggest stage of all and is backing himself to do so – provided the best version of Jack Laugher turns up.
“It’s just the motivation of trying to replicate what I did in 2016 – and trying to overcome the mistakes I’ve made since then,” said the former Ripon Grammar School pupil, who was born in Harrogate and trained at Harrogate District Diving Club
“I’ve had a lot of good competitions, but I’ve also had some terrible ones. I think that, for me, it’s not so much trying to reach perfection, but it’s about trying to work on becoming a better athlete and the best version of me that I can be, putting myself forward and going hell for leather.
“It’s not about reaching perfection and that is something I’d tell myself to bear in mind going back a year.
“Everyone idolises perfection above everything else but, for me, it’s what can I do to be the best me.
“If I can be the best me on the day, I believe I’ve got what it takes to go all the way – but it’s about reaching that first.”
That decision to focus on being the best version of himself rather than striving for out-and-out perfection looks a sensible one given his comments directly after his disappointment at the European Aquatics Championships some nine weeks ago.
“A lot of things have changed in my diving in the last two years and I think I’ve created some mistakes trying to pursue perfection,” he added.
But, one huge weapon in his armoury is the fact that he’s been there and done it before at the Olympics, and in Japan where he and partner Dan Goodfellow took gold in the Diving World Cup earlier this year.
“Being able to dive in the Olympic pool for Tokyo 2020, it meant a lot to us to go out there and do a good performance,” he added.
“I draw a huge amount of confidence from how well I dived in Tokyo with Dan.
“I know this hasn’t been what I’m used to with Europeans but I’ll focus on what we did in Japan and use this as a learning process.”
Goodfellow, meanwhile, insists that although both he and Laugher have had their struggles since joining forces, they do not expect to leave Tokyo empty-handed.
“In terms of Jack and I, I think we’d be disappointed if we didn’t win a medal,” the City of Leeds diver told Eurosport.
“Anything can happen on the day in diving and there are some strong pairs in our discipline, but we’ve shown enough to suggest we should be up there.
“The World Cup went really well and the Europeans not so much, but it was nice to see where we’re at and identify what we need to fine-tune before the Olympics.
“I think Jack and I have been struggling with different things, but we’re able to help each other.
“We’ve done a lot of work on getting the basics right, and hopefully that will pay off as we start cranking up the volume of our tougher dives.”
And it is not just Laugher himself who Goodfellow fancies to shine in the pool at this year’s Games.
The 24-year-old, who won bronze in 2016 alongside Tom Daley in the 10m synchro, added: “We’re looking really strong. I’d say even stronger than in Rio when we finished second in the medal table.
“I think this is the first time we’ve qualified every single spot when it hasn’t been a home Games, which is really exciting.
“As a result of the pandemic we have seen certain nations not qualify for events they maybe should have, some people have retired and some people just can’t go.
“The fact we have got such a strong team suggests we have got a chance to win quite a few medals.
“The British public love big sporting events like the Olympics, and it’d be great to bring a medal back for those cheering on at home.”