For diver Jack Laugher, the target growing up was to win gold at an Olympic Games and retire a champion.
The first part of that dream was achieved on August 10, 2016 – he and partner Chris Mears became Great Britain’s first ever diving Olympic gold medalists when they twisted and turned their way to victory in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard.
It was a history-making performance which earned them both an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours lists, not to mention invites to numerous awards ceremonies and events.
But what of the golden retirement? Those plans have been firmly shelved with 22-year-old Laugher – who also picked up silver in the 3m springboard in Rio – adamant there is still unfinished business for him on the boards, both individually and with Mears.
“I’ve always dreamed my entire life of getting an Olympic medal and I always said when I was younger that if I got an Olympic gold, I would go out as a champion and retire – I can’t ever be beaten then because I would never compete again,” said Laugher, speaking as British Swimming and TYR SPORT unveiled the new range of national team kit at the Plymouth Life Centre.
“But at the age of 21, loving diving, every day is brilliant – I’d achieved my dream of being an Olympic gold medalist but I felt like there’s still more to do.
“A perfect example is that I didn’t win the 3m individual. At Europeans, Commonwealths and Olympics, I’ve finished second place in all of them so that’s something to work on.
“I’ve never got a World Championship gold medal. There’s so much more in my life that I’d like to achieve.
“I think the Olympic gold medal for both of us is a stepping stone in our career, it’s definitely the defining moment but it’s not the end for us.
“We’re going to come back this year and next year and so on and so forth and really try and hit those medals as hard as we can.”
Laugher and Mears will make their first competitive appearance together since Rio 2016 at this weekend’s British National Diving Cup in Plymouth.
It will kick off what is set to be a busy post-Olympic season for the duo with the World Series set to begin in earnest in Beijing next month before the European Championships in Kiev in June and then the World Championships in Budapest a month later.
A World gold is the only major title now missing from Laugher’s collection and he admits backing up last year’s success by climbing atop the medal rostrum again is a major motivation.
“We’ve got the National Championships and then our World Series events in China, Russia and Canada,” he added.
“We’ve got those four competitions, we love them, they’re quick and we love diving against the best in the world.
“We’ll then have a bit of a break before the next nationals, I potentially might do 1m at the European Championships. I’m competing on 1m now so it might be a good event to do.
“And then we’ve got the World Championships in Budapest. It’s a massive one at the end of the year and one we really want to try and hit hard and try our show our best again.
“We want to get on that rostrum again and show that we are not just one trick ponies, we are the best in the world.”
Teammates and housemates, Laugher and Mears spend the majority of time in each other’s company.
It is an arrangement that suits them both right down to the ground with each describing the other as their best friend.
And while retirement may now be a distant thought for Laugher, he did admit that there will be one noticeable change for the two with Mears no longer competing on the individual circuit.
“Chris has become a full-time specialist for the 3m synchro, he’s had a couple of injuries here and there,” explained Laugher.
“It’s really exciting because that means he can dedicate all his time to that whereas I am a little bit all of the shop.
“But I’m a few years junior than Chris. My body is in good shape. I’m a spring chicken, he’s a big old buffalo!
“But Tokyo is the aim, and maybe even further for me.”
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