LONDON 2012: Daley admits pressure is on in front of home crowd
TOM Daley insists he is heading into London 2012 as a man of experience despite his tender years - and it will stand him in good stead as he looks to add yet more gold to his collection.
IN A SPIN: Tom Daley can't wait to get going at London 2012, where he competes in the 10m platform and 10m synchro
Four years on from Beijing Daley is older, more experienced, has some of the most difficult dives in the world in his locker and home advantage.
But the 18-year-old from Plymouth knows the hundreds of thousands of dives in training come down to just six on the day that will mean the difference between Olympic glory and failure at London 2012.
But despite the pressure the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion feels he has stepped up a level since being thrust into the spotlight as a youngster, and is one of only a handful of divers capable of taking 10m individual gold.
Daley, who also goes in the 10m synchro with partner Peter Waterfield, said: "I've got a mix of emotions - it's scary, it's exciting, I literally can't wait. If you're doing well on the day you could win medals, if you don't then you don't. It so make-or-break on the day.
"Diving has always come first, I haven't missed any training sessions. Going through the World Series I'm overall world champion individually and with Pete as well we're synchro champions so going into the Games it's quite a good position to be in.
"I feel much more prepared going into 2012 than I was in Beijing. Just generally because I've got that Olympics experience already - you know exactly what it's going to be like, you know how the TV crews work, how the village system works - everything takes a lot longer than a normal competition because of security. Those experiences are definitely going to help."
Daley must overcome 2011 Chinese world champion Qiu Bo to take gold, but the youngster did just that to take the 2009 world crown - and is backing British support to help him over the line.
"It's going to be tough to beat Qiu Bo but it's happened before," insisted Daley, who was speaking at the Team GB kitting out event at Loughborough University.
"I beat him in 2009 in the World Championships and he's not had an Olympic experience, he's never been to the Olympics before and it's just about trying to keep the pressure on, trying to dive well and trying to constantly be on their tails, because if you are on their tails then it's for them to mess up.
"I think home advantage is always good for any sport, and definitely in subjective sports like diving, gymnastics and trampolining for example because the crowd can really get behind athletes and make them do well. And you never know, it could influence the judges by half a point if they're deciding between an 8.5 and a 9 they might go for the 9 because of the loud noise.
"I've got a massive support system behind me and everyone in Plymouth is really looking forward to the Olympic Games and most of my family have got tickets now, which is great so they'll be able to be there and support me."
Despite their difference in age (Waterfield is 31) Daley believes their similar techniques give them a shot at a place on the podium and Waterfield agrees, saying: "We performed well in the Nationals and set a new personal best and a new British record, so we're definitely on form.
"We just need to hold it together on the day and we could maybe come home with a medal. We came third in the Worlds in February so that proves we can compete with the best."
And Daley added: "We know that we've been training hard together so we've just got to go out there and give it our best shot.
"I was ten-years-old when he won his silver in Athens. Not once did I ever think I would be doing synchro with him eight years later."
© Sportsbeat 2012