Tom Daley gives Alexei Evangulov ringing endorsement

 

Tom Daley publicly launched his bid for Olympic glory today in a press conference that veered from questions about his late father to the importance of personal grooming.

Such is the 18-year-old's pulling power he was almost the sole focus of a 40-minute session, which was also attended by three of his team-mates and controversial performance director Alexei Evangulov, as a relaxed Daley indulged the weird and wonderful of the world media's interest in Great Britain's Olympic poster boy.

Perhaps the most telling of his responses though was to offer a full endorsement of Evangulov.

Only six months ago their relationship hit the headlines after the Russian publicly questioned Daley's Olympic ambitions, claiming he was allowing his media commitments to get in the way of his training.

There was no sign of unease between the pair as they sat side by side today though with both offering the other lavish and unprompted praise to erase any notion that a fractious relationship could undermine Daley's bid to add an Olympic medal to an already impressive haul.

"That (Evangulov's criticism) is all in the past now. I think Alexei is what British Diving has needed," Daley said, as Team GB prepare to send out the strongest diving team in their history.

"I think Alexei has really shaped the Olympic team into something that he had a vision of when he joined the team in 2009. He's made it the team that it is today.

"He's been able to push all the divers in to what they need to do. We are the strongest team results wise this year."

A clearly taken aback Evangulov was prompted to utter off microphone: "Well, thank you."

The smoothing over of any dispute has been aided by a stellar six months for Daley since the criticism - which came during the World Cup meet at the Olympic pool in February - in which the teenager has hit peak form and, in addition to two achieving personal bests, was crowned World Series and European champion.

It has prompted belief that Daley could topple the all-conquering Chinese, headed by Qiu Bo, in front of 17,500 home fans in the Aquatics Centre.

With expectation rising Evangulov revealed he would seek to reduce the hype and pressure on his young charge over the next fortnight by ordering him out of the Olympic Village, and to a training base in Southend for six days, in between his events.

After competing alongside veteran Pete Waterfield in the platform synchro on Monday, Daley will have an 11-day wait before he returns for the individual event in which he was crowned Great Britain's youngest ever world champion as a 15-year-old.

"From my experience working with the Russian team we always try escape from the Olympic environment because you can be exhausted emotionally," Evangulov said.

"You can be good physically but emotionally you can be tired. That's why we decided to get a rest from the Olympic environment - we needed some solitude.

"That's why we are going for five to six days. Southend is the best base and diving facility in this country."

It is a scenario that appeared to sit comfortably with Daley, who added: "Alexei has come up with a very good plan.

"We are going to go away from the Olympic Village, go to Southend and stay away from all the hype and then come back in so you are refreshed and excited again to have the atmosphere of the Olympic Games."

Daley's quest for Olympic glory is also set to be played under the backdrop of his desire to win a medal for his late father Robert.

Daley was at his dad's bedside in May last year when he lost his long battle with brain cancer.

Robert Daley had been a constant at poolside during Daley's career and had pledged that he would live to see his son compete in London.

Daley admitted his absence ensured the Games would be "extra special" but that he would be cheered on by the remainder of his family who had managed to get tickets.

"Definitely. It's been a tough year for me," he said.

"Going in to this competition the only thing I can focus on is my performance. I know that all my family is going to be there watching. They've all managed to get tickets which is great. I'm really looking forward to having my family there. It's always there in the back of your head.

"It would be extra special if I could do well at these Games."

PA

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture