Lee aims to join GB talent pool for Rio
With Tom Daley only turning 22 in May, it may seem odd to be talking about the next generation of British divers.
But there are even younger talents on Team GB hoping to emulate his success, which includes Olympic bronze as well as World, Commonwealth and European gold medals.
At the forefront of the charge is Matty Lee, who already has his own impressive set of honours at junior level and last year took 10m gold at the inaugural European Games in Baku.
“It’s a unique sport and it’s given me some great rewards”
But it’s the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which is currently the focus for the 17-year-old from Leeds.
The youngster told Elephant Sport about how he is upping the intensity of his training as he chases a seat on the plane to Brazil this summer.
“I’m training harder and longer on a day to day basis, and I’ve been out to two warm-weather training camps, one in Florida and one in Australia, on top of normal training. Also, I’m trying to improve my diet in the run up to the games to help with recovery and stamina.”
Lee launched himself into diving at a very young age.
“I was first inspired to dive by watching my older brother Tom dive when I was a toddler. I wanted to be like him. I started diving at the age of six, and I’ve just enjoyed it so much ever since. It’s a unique sport and it’s given me some great rewards.”
“It’s great before the dive when people are cheering and shouting for you, but when the whistle blows and silence falls it’s just you”
Diving is a blend of athleticism, artistry and precision in which nerves and adrenaline need to be conquered in order to execute those perfect routines which leave barely a ripple. Daley has done this time and time again for Team GB, inspiring others to do the same.
Lee admitted: “It’s hard, you are alone up there on a 10m board in front of hundreds of people and possibly thousands of TV viewers all looking at you and what you’re going to do in the next two seconds. You just have to put it to the back of your mind.”
Focus is key, he says, and Lee deals with the challenges and pressures with a maturity that belies his tender years.
“You just focus and concentrate on the dive you are about to do, let that occupy your mind and nothing else.” he explained. “It’s great before the dive when people are hopefully cheering and shouting for you, but when the whistle blows and silence falls it’s just you.”
Although Lee is yet to cement his place in Team GB for the Olympics as it is still qualifying season, he has already has a taste of the fame that comes with sporting success, but insists he is keeping himself grounded.
“I think you just need to realise it won’t last very long, so keep one foot firmly in reality, but enjoy your 15 minutes of fame”
“On past experience of the European Games where I won gold, I quite liked the media attention, the press interviews and the photo-shoots, though I imagine it’s nothing compared to what might happen with the Olympics. It didn’t really impinge on my home life.”
Lee, as with most teenagers, is a keen social networker, keeping fans updated on Twitter (8.4k followers) and Instagram (19k followers), and he has also opened up his Snapchat to the public.
“I think you just need to realise it won’t last very long, so keep one foot firmly in reality, but enjoy your 15 minutes of fame,” he added.
As Lee sets his sights on a place at the Olympics, he knows there still a lot more work to do, but with a mature head on his young shoulders, he’s on course to achieve his aim.