Team GB's Chris Mears and Nick Robinson-Baker spring into action

 

Chris Mears' parents were left in tears in the Aquatics Centre grandstand after their 19-year-old son made his Olympic debut today - three years after he almost lost his life during a junior competition in Australia.

Mears and springboard synchro partner Nick Robinson-Baker produced one of the performances of their careers to claim fifth in a high-quality final.

While world champions Qin Kai and Luo Yutong nervelessly clinched yet another diving gold for China, the emotion of the Britons' performance was plain to see at the end.

Mears was given just a five per cent chance of survival when he collapsed during the Youth Olympic Festival in January 2009 after rupturing his spleen performing a dive the previous day.

After initially being misdiagnosed with meningitis Mears lost five pints of blood and had his spleen removed after it was eventually discovered he had contracted the Epstein Barr virus.

He spent a month in an Australian hospital as he slowly made his way back to full health before beginning his journey to the Olympic Games and a performance to remember today.

"My parents are up there and they were crying," Mears said.

"I know it means a lot to them and it definitely means a lot to me. To have come from where I came from in 2009 and now being in the Olympic Games and coming fifth in the world - I can't quite believe it actually.

"It is in the back of my mind and I think 'that's a really great achievement' but there's no negative input in that.

"I've come this far from pretty much rock-bottom and this is where I am now. I'm just so happy."

Mears and Robinson-Baker had only been an outside hope of a medal, although a career-best second-placing behind the Chinese at the final World Series event in Mexico in April had them dreaming of a podium place.

Their score of 432.60 today was just shy of the personal best they posted in Mexico but stand-out performances from their rivals meant they were still 14.1 points short of a medal.

The Chinese were well clear in claiming their fourth diving gold and are on track for a clean sweep of the top podium, while Russia's Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov took silver.

United States pairing Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais - who collected his first Olympic medal at the fourth attempt - finished third.

"It isn't our PB, but 432 in the final of the Olympics Games, when it's probably been the highest standard it's ever been, was absolutely phenomenal for us. We're buzzing," Robinson-Baker said.

"I could go and do it again now.

"We've got the two Russians who I think have amazing talent, they train so hard and it shows.

"The Americans are very experienced with Troy Dumais and Kristian and they've smashed it. That's what the sport is all about - going in there and competing and the best team wins."

The fifth placing was also the equal-best performance by a British springboard synchro pairing - after Mark Shipman and Tony Ally managed the same result at Athens 2004.

"Fifth place. That makes us feel so happy that we are the equal most successful team on the springboard," said Mears.

"That's just another thing to add to the excitement."

Robinson-Baker revealed afterwards that he was set to take a mini break from the sport after the Games to recharge his batteries after nearly a decade in competition.

The 25-year-old hinted, though, that he would be keen to resume his partnership with Mears looking ahead to Rio 2016.

"I'll take a little break first. There is another four years to go," he said.

"I know Chris is well up for that but I'm taking a little time out because I'm getting old. But roll on Rio."

Mears' plans are more immediate as he is due to return to the Aquatics Centre next Monday for the preliminary round of the individual springboard.

"I've still got the individual in these Olympics so I don't want to look too far into the future just yet," he said.

"I'm concentrating on the now, my training has been brilliant and I think I showed that in the pool today."

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam