Tokyo 2020 - 'I hit rock bottom' - Jack Laugher reveals he nearly quit diving, before Tokyo bronze
The 26-year-old has told Eurosport he nearly quit the sport this year having hit “rock bottom” with his mental health but says he has got his “mojo” back by earning a medal at Tokyo 2020. Laugher says he suffered the same as Simone Biles, the ‘twisties’, which affected his self-esteem and made him anxious. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
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“I’ve completed the set, but for me it was so much more than a piece of metal around my neck,” he told Eurosport.
I’ve had a really rough couple of years after the World Championships and failing on the biggest stage when I could have been a world champion, making such a crucial mistake, it really cost me my self confidence, my self-esteem, anxiety around training, competing as well.
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“Today I feel like I got it back. I feel like we’ve worked so hard with my psychologist, my coach, my friends, family and I felt like I was me today, I really did.
“It’s such a technical and power sport at the same time, you’re putting so much strength into the board but you’re having to count the somersaults and if you’re like I was, I had no confidence in myself whatsoever, guessing where I was, having no idea and I was making the same mistake over and over again.
“Honestly I’ve cried myself to sleep. I’ve hit rock bottom, I feel like, and today, it’s redemption. I feel great, I feel back to normal again, you need that confidence 100% and I think this is going to give me my confidence back.”
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Laugher says the issue was getting so serious, he nearly called it a day in the months leading up to the Games: “I almost didn’t and I wanted to quit this year at quite a few points. It’s really, really hard but I worked with psychologists, stripping everything back to basics and getting back to what is just you.
It took a while, it took a lot of bad days, a lot of sleepless nights, but I feel like I’m back. I had a lot of pressure coming into this competition, and that’s the problem as well. I put so much pressure on myself because I know how good I can be and when you’re not reaching those levels constantly it destroys you. I feel like it’s in the past now. I’ve got my mojo back.
Laugher admitted what he was experiencing was similar to Simone Biles struggling with the so-called ‘twisties’, which forced her to withdraw from every gymnastics final before returning today in the balance beam.
“It’s the exact same thing and that’s why I’ve been really supporting Simone from such a long way back, I don’t know her, I’ve never met her, but seeing somebody go through the exact same thing as me I completely understand how hard it can be.
“When you’re at the top of your game, the expectation is on you, all of a sudden you lose such a fine motor skill, it’s such a small thing that can go wrong, but when you have to it on the big stage, it’s terrifying.
“It destroys your mental health, it destroys your self confidence in yourself, and that’s what we need when we go out there. We need to be confident, we need to be strong, and there’s no way you can do it. It’s so hard, I wish her all the best, I’ve been through a similar thing and it does get better.”