Diving: Q&A with Peter Waterfield ahead of this afternoon's final with Tom Daley


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The Independent Online

The other half of Britain's most famous diving partnership, Pete Waterfield could get his first taste of victory with Tom Daley at this afternoon's final. However, he will have to be more careful with any medals he wins after losing his silver from Athens while on the M25. 

How brutal is diving on the body?

We hit the water at 40mph and I’ve been doing that for more than 20 years so it begins to take its toll. I've had four painkilling injections this year: two in my neck, one in my wrist and one in my shoulder. The injections seem to have kept any problems at bay.

What’s it like competing with Daley and all the attention he gets?

He’s sort of been made into a little pop star and I guess that’s just off the back of his success from such a young age. He handles it really well and it’s great to see a diver get that sort of recognition. I like to think I helped raise the profile of the sport but Tom’s taken it so much further, which is fantastic. Thankfully because of Tom I think a lot more kids are taking up diving. I’ve always said it would be nice to get the sort of attention and the sponsorship deals he receives. But I’m very lucky to do something that I love and I’ve been able to do it for 20 years. That’s good enough for me.

How did the partnership come about and was it something that clicked right away?

Looking at us it shouldn’t work as he’s a lot bigger than me but so was my former partner Leon Taylor. But come to think of it, most people in life are bigger than me! Because of that, his shape is obviously bigger than mine so we turn at slightly different speeds. When he was younger he wasn’t strong enough next to me and didn’t jump as high. But after Beijing he started growing and we were ready to try out as a pairing.

Are you guys friends?

Tom and I are totally different people but we get on well. My previous partner, Leon, was my very best friend so the change takes some getting used to but I really like working with Tom and we both have the same goal . . . to win.

You won an Olympic silver in Athens alongside Taylor. How was that experience?

Very few people get to an Olympics and even fewer get to stand on the podium. It was a dream come true, and it’s something I’ll never forget. We made history as it was the first British diving medal for 60 years.

Your medal met with an unhappy ending though, didn’t it?

I was heading to a school presentation event in London. I was going on the M25, which I knew would be a nightmare in the morning so I went on my motorbike which I had at the time. I had my medal in a rucksack, the zip opened and the medal came out. It was the only thing to fall out — I still had things in there like my pants. I got a replacement but it’s not the same.

When you’re at the top of the board, do you ever feel scared?

I’m more scared now than I’ve ever been. Our sport is dangerous and, when you’re up there, you know if you make a mistake you’re going to get hurt. So the fear is there and that’s a good thing. If I didn’t have the fear then I’d be taking the sport for granted. It’s good to have the fear, I like the fear — that’s what kind of excites.

If you’re scared doing it then what do your family make of it watching you?

My mum’s the worst. She says she can’t look when I do some of the dives.