Chris Mears

AGED 24 – 174CM | 70KG GB DIVER, PER­FEC­TION­IST

Men's Health (UK) - - The Body Issue 2017 -

Three sec­onds – less than the time it takes to lace up your train­ers. In few sports is the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity, or mar­gin of er­ror, so slen­der. Yet this is what it amounts to; the months of train­ing, the twice daily, three-hour ses­sions, dis­tilled into this one dive. Just three sec­onds is the dif­fer­ence be­tween Olympic gold and crush­ing dis­ap­point­ment.

“The hard­est dive in the world is the triple- out,” says Chris Mears of the dive he and part­ner Jack Laugher per­formed to per­fec­tion at Rio 2016, to be­come GB’S first Olympic div­ing gold medal­lists. “It’s two-and-a-half for­ward som­er­saults with three twists. It’s hard for us to do on a good day, let alone on the days when we’re strug­gling. The tim­ing has to be so pre­cise: the take- off, com­ing out of your shape into the twist… It’ll kill you if you’re not in the right phys­i­cal con­di­tion.”

To this end, Mears be­lieves there’s one thing above all oth­ers that is cru­cial to ex­e­cut­ing a perfect, splash-free en­try: “Core sta­bil­ity. It’s mas­sively over­looked, es­pe­cially by gym lads who just want to bulk up and get mas­sive. But in my sport, you re­alise how im­por­tant it is. With som­er­sault­ing, twist­ing and hold­ing en­tries at high speeds – we can hit the wa­ter at 25mph – if your core isn’t ac­ti­vated then it’s easy to go loose and get in­jured.”

The diver’s shred­ded torso isn’t just built to look good in Speedos, then, but pre­ci­sion- en­gi­neered to suit the spe­cific de­mands of his sport. Gen­er­at­ing the ex­plo­sive power to pro­pel him­self off the spring­board be­fore ini­ti­at­ing a se­ries of light­ning-fast flips and twists places huge stress on his body.

“When Lewis Hamil­ton goes into an ac­cel­er­ated right-hand turn at 170mph, he pulls about 3.5Gs,” says Mears, be­tray­ing his other love: mo­tor­sport. “When we do our triple- out, push­ing into the board, throw­ing into a pike, flick­ing our legs out and go­ing into a twist, we pull the same G-force. There’s some­thing so pure about that. Mil­lions of pounds go into F1 cars to let them hit the sorts of speeds that pull that much G-force. All we’ve got is a div­ing board and a pair of trunks.” Chris Mears is an am­bas­sador for Bridge­stone, a World­wide Olympic Part­ner

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