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Tom Daley's move may boost career of Southampton ace Chris Mears
5:59pm Wednesday 17th October 2012 in Sport
SOUTHAMPTON Diving Academy star Chris Mears can benefit from Tom Daley’s switch to the springboard.
That is the view of British Diving performance director Alexei Evangulov.
Mears, right, and Nick Robinson-Baker finished fifth in the 3m synchro final at London 2012, but will have competition from Daley and Jack Laugher at the World Championships in Barcelona next July.
Daley has forged his reputation on the 10-metre platform, where he was crowned world champion at the age of 15 before winning an Olympic bronze medal in London.
But in a rare appearance on the three-metre board last week, Daley won gold alongside Laugher to claim his first ever junior world title in the synchro.
The duo were only paired as a post-Olympics experiment – Daley and Southampton’s Peter Waterfield were paired together in the 10m synchro board at London 2012 – and trained together for just a couple of days before flying out to Adelaide for the season- ending competition.
It proved an inspired move and, with an eye on the Rio Olympics in four years, Evangulov confirmed the teenagers would now continue their partnership.
“Why not? We never thought they might get a medal so to get a gold medal is amazing,” Evangulov said.
“Tom is a professional in the platform. This was just an experiment. We said to them to try it and creep up the table and see how they went.
“Tom will remain a platform diver first and foremost of course, but there can be a combination. It comes back to his genius as a diver that he can do this.
“A couple of years ago I told Tomthat he could be on the springboard and he didn't believe me. He was laughing at me.
“Some great divers have done it before.”
Daley's partnership with Laugher has the makings of a potential world-class act.
Laugher, 17, is a rising star himself having already established himself inside the world's top-10 springboarders, while he ended his junior career last week with four world titles.
With the season having now ended, the pair will not return to competition until the national titles in Daley's home town of Plymouth in February.
While they can use that time to establish their fledgling partnership, the teenage duo will face a tough task to unseat Robinson-Baker and Mears, who surpassed expectations at the Olympics by reaching the individual 3m springboard final, as Great Britain's number one pairing.
Robinson-Baker were fifth at the Olympics but, with the World Championships set to be held in Barcelona next July, Evangulov has welcomed the potential for a friendly rivalry.
“The more pairs that we have, the better for competition,”
“We have Nick Robinson- Baker and Chris Mears doing well but maybe they can test them.
“If they have a team challenging them then they could do better. It is good for us.”