Dubai: Tom Daley’s new coach Jane Figueiredo says she has full confidence in the British diver’s ability to win gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 19-year-old Englishman had to settle for bronze in the 10-metre platform at London 2012, but is redoubling his efforts to triumph in Brazil following a recent change in coach and training base.
Figueiredo replaced Andy Banks, Daley’s coach of 12 years, in January and the Briton has since moved from Plymouth to London to begin his new training regime.
“If I didn’t believe in Tom and his ability, I wouldn’t have come to London,” Figueiredo told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Fina/NVC Diving World Series in Dubai on Wednesday. “But I knew that I was going to be with someone special who could do special things. I believe we can medal, because what else is there? That’s why we do what we do, our goal is to medal whenever we compete.”
The Zimbabwe-born coach has led athletes to four previous Olympics, the highlight being a synchronised three-metre springboard Olympic gold medal for Russia’s Vera Ilina and Loulia Pakhalina at Sydney 2000.
“I learned a lot through the Russian system about trying to be winners and I share that philosophy coming to coach Tom,” she added. “I want to be a winner and we’re going to do our best to be winners.
“He reminds me a lot of my Russian girls, the passion and the work ethic, everything that I probably didn’t think I’d ever find again. I’m all those things as well, so to find an athlete that shares that and dreams about being the best just makes my job so much better.”
Before Rio, however, there are the Commonwealth Games in Scotland this summer and next year’s Fina World Championships in Russia with which to prepare.
As such, Figueiredo says there’s a lot of work to do, using the annual six-stage Fina/NVC Diving World Series as preparation.
“Before I started this project, I already had in my head some things I felt he needed to improve upon and we attacked that right off the bat,” she said. “I think, aesthetically, he is extremely talented but, for a watchful eye like mine, we just need to strengthen his body shape and make his lines longer with nice straight legs and conditioning.”
Daley has lived his life in the spotlight since becoming one of the youngest athletes to represent Great Britain at the Olympics aged 13 in 2008. He even has his own reality television show in the UK called Splash!
But Figueiredo says that, if ever his growing popularity starts to distract him from his Olympic dream, she’ll be ready to pull him into line.
“There was a conversation [about distractions]. For me to come to London, I felt like we were all or nothing and we had to share that vision. If I was going to sacrifice everything, I expected him to do the same.
“There are no distractions bar the ones we create. And as long as we are firm and steadfast, we can channel that into positive energy instead of negativity. If I feel like it’s going to get crazy, we’ll talk about it and make it so that it’s a positive.”