Jack Laugher: Winning battle inside his own head is key to chances of future success for Olympic bronze medalist
The Harrogate-born 26-year-old secured a third Olympic medal when he took bronze at the Toko Games last week, finishing just behind Chinese duo Xie Siyi and Wang Zongyuan.
His success out in Japan comes in spite of him having endured the “worst two years” of his life in the build up to the competition, a period of time which saw him struggle with anxiety and confidence issues to the point where he was unable to sleep at night.
But, having managed to get himself into a better head space, Laugher feels he is now in a position where he is in control of his own destiny once again.
“The Chinese are very good, but I have beaten them multiple times before,” the former Ripon Grammar School pupil told the Harrogate Advertiser.
“That day, it was not about me trying to beat them, it was about me beating myself. I always say it and there so many quotes you could use, but my biggest opponent is always me.
“If I can beat myself, I put myself in a good position. If I don’t let the negative thoughts come in, don’t dive with any fear then I will perform well. It’s about my mental state, really. Obviously I do have to beat them as well, but I am physically capable of doing that.
“I think that in the future, if I can maintain the massive strides that I have made in my performance at the Olympic Games then hopefully I’ll beat them [his Chinese rivals] again.”
Laugher dived consistently well during the 3m springboard final in Tokyo, not dropping below a score of 81 in any of his six attempts.
A forward four-and-a-half somersaults tuck earned him a stunning 96.90 from his penultimate attempt, moving him to within two points of silver ahead of the final round.
He eventually finished on 518, while Zongyuan scored 534.90 and champion Siyi made it to 558.75.
“Over 500 in a men’s 3m event is considered very good, it is top-level stuff and there were only three people who did that in the whole competition,” Laugher reflected.
“I was about 50 points off my personal best. With my personal best I would have won it, but over the last two years I haven’t scored anywhere near those scores.
“I had almost zero confidence coming into these Olympics, but we changed some things, stripped everything back and worked really, really hard with a lot of people and it paid off. It worked.
“To come home with a medal after what happened at the World Championships in 2019 and the up and down year that I’ve had so far, I’m so proud of myself and feel as if I’ve really achieved something great.”