Jack Laugher loses defence of Olympic diving crown after ‘stinker’ in final

The Great Britain diver Jack Laugher has lost the Olympic crown he won in the synchronised diving in Rio, after a “stinker” of a performance with his partner, Dan Goodfellow, at the Aquatics Centre in Tokyo.

Laugher was hoping to become a two-time Olympic champion in the men’s 3m synchronised diving, having defied expectations to win with Chris Mears in 2016. The 24-year-old Goodfellow won bronze in 2016 alongside Tom Daley in the 10m synchro.

The 26-year-old Yorkshireman Laugher will compete in the individual 3m springboard on 3 August after taking silver five years ago to become the first British diver to win multiple Olympic diving medals at the same Games.

Speaking after event, Laugher said while the pair performed well at the test competition, the final had been a “stinker”, blaming an excess of adrenaline in the pair’s first Olympics together.

“We’ve worked really hard but unfortunately people at home just see this, rather than the hard work we’ve put in,” he said. “I just apologise to everyone at home we didn’t get the result we wanted.”

Laugher won world bronze in 2019 but has struggled this year, telling Eurosport before the Tokyo Games that he and Goodfellow had been “struggling with different things, but we’re able to help each other”.

A near-flawless performance from the Chinese divers Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi won them gold after making barely a splash in the water over their six dives. China won seven out of eight diving gold medals on offer at Rio 2016, with only Laugher’s and Mears’s gold denying them a clean sweep.

The United States divers Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon took silver, while Germany’s Patrick Hausding and Lars Rüdiger recovered from a shaky start to take bronze. Laugher and Goodfellow finished in seventh place.

From Laugher and Goodfellow’s first dive it seemed clear that it was not going to be their moment, with the pair’s synchronisation and execution never reaching the level the Olympians are capable of.

The BBC commentator Leon Taylor, a former Team GB diver who won a silver at the Athens Olympics, did not hold back after witnessing an over-rotation from Goodfellow in the first dive, saying he had “pretty much [landed] flat on his back”.

When it was clear the pair’s medal hopes had been extinguished, he added: “That’s just a reflection of a very tough day at the office […] Post-competition interviews will reveal what is going on, but that is a dismal performance.”

But the pair finished with a strong final dive, giving a much-needed confidence boost for Laugher in the individual event.

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