Springboard launchpad for Daley
British Diving performance director Alexei Evangulov believes Tom Daley can make the leap from platform to springboard star.
The 18-year-old enjoyed unexpected success at last week's World Junior Diving Championships.
Daley has forged his reputation on the 10-metre platform, where he was crowned world champion at the age of 15 before winning an Olympic bronze medal in London.
But in a rare appearance on the three-metre board last week, Daley won gold alongside Jack Laugher to claim his first ever junior world title in the synchro.
The duo were only paired as a post-Olympics experiment and trained together for just a couple of days before flying out to Adelaide for the season-ending competition.
It proved an inspired move and, with an eye on the Rio Olympics in four years, Evangulov confirmed the teenagers would now continue their partnership.
"Why not? We never thought they might get a medal so to get a gold medal is amazing," said Evangulov.
"Tom is a professional in the platform. This was just an experiment. We said to them to try it and creep up the table and see how they went.
"Tom will remain a platform diver first and foremost of course, but there can be a combination. It comes back to his genius as a diver that he can do this.
"A couple of years ago, I told Tom that he could be on the springboard and he didn't believe me. He was laughing at me.
"Some great divers have done it before."
Daley's partnership with Laugher has the makings of a potential world-class act.
Laugher, 17, is a rising star himself having already established himself inside the world's top-10 springboarders, while he ended his junior career last week with four world titles.
With the season having now ended, the pair will not return to competition until the national titles in Daley's home town of Plymouth in February.
While they can use that time to establish their fledgling partnership, the teenage duo will face a tough task to unseat Nick Robinson-Baker and Chris Mears as Great Britain's number one pairing.
Robinson-Baker and Mears were fifth at the Olympics but, with the World Championships set to be held in Barcelona next July, Evangulov has welcomed the potential for a friendly rivalry.
"The more pairs that we have, the better for competition," he said.
"We have Nick Robinson-Baker and Chris Mears doing well but maybe they can test them. If they have a team challenging them then they could do better. It is good for us."
The depth of British diving was underlined at the junior worlds as Team GB returned their best ever performance.
While Daley and Laugher contributed three gold medals, Hannah Starling and Alicia Blagg became the first British girls to win a junior medal.
It meant Britain finished second only to diving powerhouse China on the medal tally, a result that Evangulov did not expect.
With a strong cast of young talent emerging, the Russian has now set a target of becoming the second-ranked European nation by the next Olympics, and the fifth-ranked in the world.
"We are going in the right direction. I was really proud of this result. To finish second on the medal table is something that we did not expect. We did not plan for that," he said.
"We finished ahead of some very strong diving countries like the United States, Russia and Australia.
"It is our dream of course to be second behind China (in the world).
"The reality is that we set our own target which is to be the second-ranked nation in Europe. We want to be second behind Russia by Rio.
"We would also like to be ranked fifth in the world in four years.
"We are seventh now. If you look in the past at Beijing, Great Britain was 14th in the medal table and here in London they were seventh.
"Top five in Rio will be very good but I like the idea about being number two also."
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