Olympic diving team is sunk
PUBLISHED: 14:32 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 23 August 2010
2008 Getty Images
A FORMER coach of Olympic diver Blake Aldridge has defended his behaviour during a disappointing dive with 14-year-old sensation Tom Daley, writes Kate Nelson. Aldridge, 26, who used to train at Crystal Palace Diving Club, was slammed after making a pool
A FORMER coach of Olympic diver Blake Aldridge has defended his behaviour during a disappointing dive with 14-year-old sensation Tom Daley, writes Kate Nelson.
Aldridge, 26, who used to train at Crystal Palace Diving Club, was slammed after making a poolside phone call to his mum just minutes before the pair's final jump in the men's synchronised event on Monday.
He later blamed their lacklustre performance, in which they came last, on his schoolboy partner's nerves, claiming Daley was "nowhere at the top of his game".
But speaking exclusively to Kentish Times Newspapers Crystal Palace diving coach, Gill Snode, said both divers were let down by a lack of support.
She said: "I could see there was something wrong after their second dive. It was clear in their faces that there was no rapport between them. I don't understand what happened."
The spat came after Britain's second youngest male Olympian, Tom, claimed he was antagonised by Aldridge's phone call, believing it showed a lack of concentration.
Speaking after the event, Aldridge said: "He had a pop at me before the last dive. I saw my mum in the audience and I asked her to give me a call and Tom went to me 'Why are you on the phone? We're still in the competition and we've got another dive to do.'
"That's just Thomas, he's over-nervous. Thomas should not be worrying about what I'm doing but he was worrying about everyone and everything and that to me is really the sole reason why he didn't perform."
Ms Snode coached Aldridge for over 12 years until he was 17 when he moved to Southampton. He later came back to Crystal Palace and trained under Olympic coach, Cheng Yang.
She said: "I know Blake needs support during a competition and it looks like he looked to his mother for that.
"He beckoned to her because he knew it wasn't going well. But perhaps that support should have come from elsewhere.
"I don't want to criticise Team GB but shouldn't there have been some managers or coaches with them? They both looked alone.
"The whole world could see something was wrong by their expressions. There are things that can be done in between dives to help them focus, whether that be having a psychologist on hand or listening to music or whatever. The media attention really got to Thomas. He is only 14 and he was splashed all over the Chinese national newspapers. Can you imagine that at 14?
"Thomas wasn't expecting to get a medal, for him it was about the experience but he and Blake were both hyped up so much.
"Thomas was nervous but Blake doesn't have any more Olympic experience than him so he had nothing to offer him in the way of support. You are only in charge of your own dive, you can't control the other persons."
Asked whether the pair deserved their placing, she said: "On that performance, yes they did. But people should remember that they came in the top eight of the world's teams which is an amazing achievement. They did not come last in the world."
The Crystal Palace coach predicted the Chinese hosts would win the Olympics. "They are walking away with it," she said. "We have a couple of Chinese coaches at Crystal Palace teaching their methods and you can already see the difference in the children."
Tom will dive again on August 22 in the Men's individual 10m jump.