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Tom Daley's Mentor Leon Taylor
Date: 16/8/2008

August - From the second week of the Olympic Games in Beijing
Wow! What an exciting second week I had at the Olympic Games. I'll start from when I last wrote. The first event was the men's synchronised 3m springboard event. Our boys finished 7th which was our highest result in the diving but I believe they should have been 4th based on the actual dives. However other teams had experience on their side. This was Ben Swain and Nick Robinson's first Olympic Games but in London in four years I think we will see them improve on that position.

What some people don't realise is that our four synchronised diving teams had already done brilliantly to even get to the Olympic Games because only the top eight teams in the world get to complete. The preliminary rounds take place earlier in the year so what you see in the Olympic Games is the actual final. So 8th position isn't last - it's 8th in the World!

On the 14th August I had a day off! We made the most of a day away from the Water Cube and as a diving team we went to the Great Wall of China. It was an early start so we could get there before it got too busy but we had a fantastic time. Learning about the history of the Great Wall was fascinating, especially how they carried just 2 rocks at a time to build it. It's mind blowing when you think about it! We got a cable car up to the top of the Great Wall and a toboggan down.
After that the individual competitions began. And what fantastic competitions they were! It was absolutely amazing to watch and I couldn't believe what I was seeing some days. Straight after the Women's 3m Springboard I went to the Bird's Nest to watch the Men's 100metre Final. I was only 20 metres away from Usain Bolt as he broke the World Record in the most amazing sprint ever seen.

Around this time Team GB had a real rush of Gold medals in the cycling, sailing and pool so there was such a buzz around the Olympic Village and amongst the presenters. It was such a fantastic atmosphere and I felt so honoured to be part of it. I was also lucky enough to see Christine Ohuruogu win the Women's 400 metres!

Back at the Water Cube I was so pleased to see my great friend Alexander Despatie win a silver medal. When you know someone like Alexander who works so hard, it is lovely to see them rewarded with a medal.

On the 21st August I was flying solo in the commentary box as my colleague, Bob Ballard was commentating on the Open Water Swimming. I found it quite tough in comparison to when it's the two of us as you have to be talking about the dives as well as waiting for the scores to come in and report on those. I enjoyed it, but was glad to have Bob back the next day. This was obviously the Men's Individual semi-final and final which Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield were competing in. I think Tom did brilliantly to finish 7th in his first ever Olympic Games. He kept stepping up a gear throughout the competition as he became more experienced and learnt to settle his nerves. As his mentor I told him to smile before every dive and in the final he did this. I think it made a real difference and know that he has a great future ahead of him!

And that was my Olympic Games. I was flying back on the Sunday so missed the closing ceremony but I have enjoyed every minute of what has been a brilliant two weeks. It's very tiring though so in a few weeks I am going to have a holiday and a much needed rest!
Leon

August - From the first week of the Olympic Games in Beijing

Well it's been nonstop since I last wrote. Last time I was just about to board a plane to Beijing and now here I am with the Olympic Games in full flow. When I first arrived I went to Xian to meet the team for a training camp. Most of the divers had been there in February for a test event so were familiar with the pool and facilities. Before arriving at the camp the team went to the Olympic Village to get a feel for the place. Before going I had set them a series of things to find out such as how long it takes to get from one place to another, what buses they needed to get. I'd also told them to visit the Team GB headquarters where all the physios and doctors are so if they need them they know where to go.

The training camp was really good fun and thankfully injury free! It wasn't all about diving, we did a sports quiz and the divers had fun on the driving range. I did some video footage of them all and have some great filming of Tom Daley, attempting to play golf!!!

The training camp was also a great opportunity for me to get back into training. Obviously I am not competing any more but remaining fit is very important to me.
And then on the 5th August it was to Beijing for the Olympic Games. Did you see the amazing opening ceremony? I was lucky enough to watch it from the BBC studio, which overlooks the Birds Nest (the Olympic stadium) so I had a fantastic view of the fireworks. I am staying in a fantastic hotel in the middle of Olympic Park along with the other members of the BBC team.

Two days into the games it was straight into commentating for me, for the Women's 3 metre synchro final. The next day was the big one! Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge in the Men's 10 metre platform synchro final. They finished in 8th place and since then there has been a huge amount of media attention on the pair, which I have been heavily involved with. In fact, my phone just hasn't stop ringing!

Today I have been commentating on the Women's 10m platform synchronised event. Our girls dived really well but finished in 8th place. I was very disappointed with the scores as believe they deserved to finish in 4th place. It's tough on the overall team as we haven't been getting the results we hoped for. In my role as mentor I have to be there to support the team and give those still to compete a boost!!

On a positive note I am really enjoying commentating and have had some great feedback! I am so passionate and enthusiastic about diving and the feedback I have had is that my enthusiasm is coming across in my commentary. It's great to be part of such an amazing Olympic Games. The Chinese have organised a fantastic event. Everything is running so smoothly, the security is top notch and the games just have a great feel to them!

There's already been a few Olympic medals for Team GB in the cycling and swimming. This morning the first British male won a silver medal in the canoe slalom. It's great news as I was getting stick from the female presenters that it was ‘The Chicks Olympics', so it's fantastic to hear that the men now have a medal under their belt.

As for Tom Daley, he is now firmly focused on his individual competition. He'll have a few days to recover from the synchronised event and then back into training. As his mentor I had a chat with him earlier and told him he's got the experience, now he needs to go and show everyone what he can do. You'll have to watch next week but I am sure we will see Tom at his best!
And finally the team at www.yougo4it.co.uk have challenged me to say "Tom Daley yougo4it" when I am commentating his event so I will do my best!

Come back next week to find out what I am up to in the second week of the Olympic Games.

Leon x

--

July

Well I am writing this blog from Heathrow airport as I am soon to board a plane to Beijing, which leaves in just two hours. As I mentioned in my last blog I am mentor to Tom Daley and the rest of the British Diving Team. I am also commentating for the BBC so it's an exciting time for me. Obviously I am sad to not be going to the Olympics as an athlete but I have lots of new challenges ahead of me and new roles to learn about. I am ready for that challenge!

The British Diving Team will be at a training camp in Xian until the 5th August then they will head to Beijing to the Olympic Village. Before going to the training camp they will go to the village briefly to get a feel for the place. In my role as mentor I will be speaking to the whole of the team as part of their training camp, discussing any concerns they may have. Everything is different at the Olympic Games. Even just going to get some food can be very time consuming as you need to get buses there and back. I will use my experience to put the diver's minds at rest as it's so important to just be able to focus on the actual competition. I will speak to Tom and the team on a daily basis throughout the competition.

Since I last wrote I attended the British Olympic Trials in June. This was a tough competition as I was in my mentoring role so I had to console those who didn't make it and congratulate those that did. It was a complete mix of emotions and very different to how I'd experienced this competition in the past! Tom had a great competition. Not only did he score a PB but he scored over 500, which is World Class. It's like a 100 metre sprinter breaking the 10 second barrier in athletics!

A few weeks later I attended a training camp with the team. I did a 2 hour presentation about the Olympic Games to give everyone as much help and support as I could. Then last week I formed part of the media that was interviewing the divers. It was strange to be interviewing the likes of Tom and Pete Waterfield who I have worked with for years but nice to see things from a different angle. We also had a diving team lunch to give everyone a good send off and went bowling where we played athletes versus staff.

And then on Sunday, Tom and the team left for China, ready to take part in the World's biggest sporting event. I will be writing about my experience out there so come back soon to read all about it. In the meantime you may well hear me commentating on the BBC if you are watching the diving. I wish Tom and the rest of the team all the best and I look forward to cheering them on from the commentators' box!

Speak soon

Leon 

--

June

It's nice to be back here on www.yougo4it.co.uk and let you all know what I am up to. In the last few weeks I have announced my retirement from diving following a number of medical problems I have had this year. Mentally I was still as determined as ever to compete in my final Olympics this summer but my body had different ideas and my back was unable to meet the demands that the sport places on it. So I am writing this blog as Tom Daley's mentor.

It was in 2004 that I started mentoring Tom. I recognised the huge talent that Tom had and wanted to use my expertise from the last 20 years to help him. Now he is going to Beijing and facing one of the biggest challenges of his career so with three Olympics under my belt I can share my knowledge and experience.

My role is like that of a big brother. When Tom has any questions or needs advice he can have a chat with me and I will help him where I can. I usually have a story that I can share about my time in diving and tell him how I handled different situations.

I was asked what one piece of advice I would give to Tom and for me the answer was simple. Smile! If you smile and enjoy everything you do it helps you cope with the demands and pressures of what you are facing. I gave Tom this advice when he was 10 years old and he is still following it now. He loves what he does and is really enjoying himself at the moment.

With the Olympic Games only a few months away I have been helping Tom cope with the demands of the media. Since his Olympic qualification Tom has been in the media spotlight with the press wanting to know whether he will win a medal and this has been heightened since my retirement. Handling the media and these types of questions isn't easy, especially at such a young age, so I have been helping Tom to cope with this kind of pressure.

When I announced my retirement I was also asked to be mentor for the whole of the British Diving Team so I will be near the poolside in Beijing giving advice and encouragement to the team. I will also be attending all the training camps over the next few months. I am also going to be a commentator for the BBC so if you watch Tom or the other British divers competing, it will be my voice you will hear explaining what is happening.

Although I am still very disappointed that I won't be competing in Beijing I have a very exciting few months ahead in my role as mentor. I look forward to letting you know what Tom and I are doing together in my next blog.

Leon




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