Tom Daley will be the star attraction at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool this weekend when he makes his first competitive appearance since taking Olympic bronze in London last summer.
Daley heads the British Gas GB Team in action at the three day FINA/Midea Diving World Series which starts tomorrow. The 18-year-old will be competing in the men’s 10m Individual and is likely to face his rival Qiu Bo from China in what will be his first trip to Edinburgh.
The event will act as something of warm-up for next year’s Commonwealth Games as diving at the Commonwealth Pool is the only part of Glasgow 2014 taking place in the Capital. Daley is looking forward to another world-class event in front of a British audience. “I’m really excited to be getting back into the competitive season,” he said. “I have never competed in Edinburgh before but from what I’ve seen, the pool looks great. It is exciting to think that this pool will be used for the Commonwealth Games.
“It is always good to have the support from your home crowd. It inspired me in London and I hope it will inspire the whole team in Edinburgh too. The World Series is a great way to start the season. It allows us to compete against the best ahead of the World Championships (in Barcelona in July) and it is a good measure of how you are doing in mid-season training.
“At the beginning of the year my coaches and I decided that I wouldn’t compete in all six legs of the World Series. But this event is going to be used as part of the qualification for the Worlds, so I am looking at putting in a good performance in Edinburgh. I’m really looking forward to the World Championships this year which is the first major competition for me after the Olympics. It will be a great challenge.”
The GB line-up this weekend also includes Olympic finalists Chris Mears, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, and there are two late additions in Jack Laugher and Rebecca Gallantree. Laugher has been handed an entry in the men’s 3m Springboard while Gallantree will partner Alicia Blagg in the 3m Synchro after their impressive performances at the opening two legs of this season’s World Series in Beijing and Dubai respectively.
While Scotland isn’t represented this weekend, Scotland does have some great divers, notably Grace Reid and James Heatly, both who train at the Commonwealth Pool and are working hard to try and qualify for Glasgow 2014.
The Daley factor has had a significant impact, with Edinburgh Diving Club now having more than 500 members. The recent TV celebrity diving programme – Splash – has also given the sport a boost.
“Splash has made people far more aware of diving,” said Jane Ogden, the Chair of Scottish Diving. “Edinburgh has always been one of the most successful clubs in Britain and the refurbished Commonwealth Pool has helped resuscitate the interest. It is now one of the GB Centre of Excellence. This weekend should be terrific. It is great to have Tom Daley competing here for a first time.”