Diving: Coaches hope Tom Daley can bring home gold for Plymouth and Team GB

 

Tom Daley's coaches are hoping that he can emulate the gold-winning success of his classmate Ruta Meilutyte.

The 18-year-old diving sensation is fancied to be in with a shout of a medal when he competes in the men's 10m diving platform on Saturday, with crowds expected to turn out in force to watch Daley's efforts on a big screen in Plymouth city centre.

The Devon diver narrowly missed out on a place on the winners' podium when he and Pete Waterfield took part in the pairs dive last week, but his mentors at Plymouth College are quietly confident Daley can match his medal-winning friend and fellow pupil Meilutyte, who stormed to gold for Lithuania in the women's 100m breaststroke.

Jon Rudd, director of swimming at Plymouth College, said: "We strongly hope that Tom can go some way towards matching Ruta.

"Knowing Tom and his coaching team, and the preparation they have put in, there is no-one better to win a gold."

Daley made his Olympic bow in Beijing four years ago, as a 14-year-old diving prodigy, and success since then has seen national confidence in Daley blossom. More than 1,000 people turned out to see the Plymothian pair up with Waterfield when their event was screened live in the city on July 30.

Plymouth College staff are planning to meet up on Saturday at the campus to cheer on their star pupil.

Mr Rudd added: "It is a bit of a ghost town here on site at the moment, because the students have returned home for the summer. But there are still a lot of staff here, and the place is buzzing with excitement."

Much of that excitement lingers from 15-year-old Meilutyte's heroics in the water, clinching her an unexpected gold medal.

Mr Rudd said the Plymouth College student was guaranteed "instant iconic status" in her homeland, after arriving in Lithuania yesterday to a hero's welcome.

He added: "She is from a very small, proud country, so it is wonderful for them to have this success.

"Ruta has also received a lot of support, tuition and encouragement from Plymouth - the city where she has lived for three years - and so I think the people of Plymouth have really taken her to their hearts. They are proud of her, as are we."

He said that whatever happens on Saturday, both Meilutyte and Daley are inspirations to the next generation of athletes, adding: "It just goes to show what you can achieve if you are determined. They are fantastic role models for young people."

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