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