JACK LAUGHER was accentuating the positives this evening after a crucial error robbed him of a second Commonwealth Games diving gold.
Having qualified almost 50 points ahead of the rest of the field, Laugher was a strong favourite as he tackled his preferred 3m programme, and was comfortably clear with two of his six dives left.
However, having chosen to attempt a more difficult dive than all but one of his opponents, the North Yorkshire teenager failed to successfully execute his routine, with the judges penalising him extremely harshly.
His final total of 449.70 was eight points adrift of Liang, and more than 15 points lower than the mark he set during qualifying in the morning session, but having still claimed the second major medal of his career, Laugher was not about to be too downhearted.
“If you had told me four years ago that I was going to come here and claim a gold and silver medal, I would’ve thought you were lying,” he said. “My 3m has been absolutely fantastic this year, and I’ve come away with various medals over the World Series and got my first ever World Cup medal as well.
“I was hoping this year was going to be my year, and a silver medal is absolutely fantastic. The guy who came first put an absolutely storming performance down, and I made a few mistakes as I went along. But I’m still really, really happy, and it’s just a great achievement really.”
Nevertheless, Laugher will be rueing the error that ultimately settled things, with a mistimed spring from the board throwing him off balance as soon as he started moving through the air.
Had he chosen a simpler series of dives, he might well have ended this evening as a double Commonwealth champion, but having closed the gap on the leading Chinese divers thanks to a willingness to take risks, the City of Leeds youngster does not regret his boldness at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool.
“I probably took a risk,” said Laugher. “But when you’re playing with the big boys in the world field, you need to be putting those big dives out there if you want to be coming away with medals.
“In the World Cups, people are using even harder dives than I’m using, so I’m really striving to get to where those people are. It’s definitely a high-risk dive, but even with easy dives, you can make mistakes.
“I landed on the board in the corner a bit, and it was a little bit mistimed, and that just lowers you a bit too much. That made it a bit more of a struggle on the end of the dive. It’s just one of those things – when you’re doing a dive with such a high tariff, you need a perfect take off. If you don’t get that, it becomes very difficult to get it right.”
Laugher could still claim a second Commonwealth gold tomorrow morning as he returns to the pool for his final event, the 3m synchronised springboard that will see him team up with Chris Mears.
“I’m back with Chris for the synchro, and we’re really excited for that,” he said. “We had a really good World Cup together and finished fifth, and that was really amazing, and we’re hoping for good things.
“We’re great mates and hopefully we’ll put our best performance out there and nail it. If I could finish with three medals, that would be absolutely fantastic.”
Laugher was not the only North Yorkshireman on tonight's podium as Harrogate’s Oliver Dingley picked his way through the field to claim a bronze.
A former club mate of Laugher at Harrogate Diving Club, Dingley was down in seventh after a minor mistake on his second dive.
However, he was a model of consistency after that and deservedly claimed a bronze medal after failing to finish in the top three in any of his events in Delhi four years ago.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Dingley. “I knew it (a medal) was a possibility, but I think everyone was feeling the nerves. I dropped my second dive, but I slowly brought it all the way back to third and I can’t believe I’ve done it. In this sort of field, if you miss a dive, it’s very hard to get back. But luckily I kept focused and it worked.
“I had a lot of support here and that helped. My girlfriend was here with a flag she made, my two sisters and older brother were here too, and I didn’t know it, but my mum and dad were also in the crowd. They weren’t able to tickets for the prelims, although I’m told my dad was wandering around outside trying to buy tickets off anyone who had them.”