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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 23:21 GMT 00:21 UK
Comic inspires diving heroes
By Phil Gordos
BBC Sport in Athens

Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor
Among the first people that Leon Taylor and Peter Waterfield thanked after winning Great Britain's first medal of the 2004 Olympics was comedian Peter Kay.

The diving duo were pretty generous with their praise all round after taking silver in the men's synchronised 10m platform event.

Waterfield paid tribute to the medical team at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) for helping him recover from an ankle injury that threatened his participation in Athens.

Taylor hailed Tandi Gerrard and Jane Smith for providing him with some welcome inspiration minutes before his event started, his team-mates finishing a creditable fourth in the women's 3m synchronised springboard.

And both Waterfield and Taylor thanked their supporters for roaring them on to Britain's first Olympic diving medal for 44 years.

But it was the mention of Kay's name that perhaps was the most significant.

Kay starred in a beer commercial on television that poked fun at diving, although not everyone connected with the sport was amused.

Yet, just minutes after collecting silver, Taylor launched into a brief but telling eulogy of the Bolton comic.

Comic Peter Kay
"I'd like to give credit to Peter Kay and his 'top bombing'," said the peroxide blond 26-year-old from Sheffield.

"Any publicity is great and I hope we now ride on the back of that and raise the profile of diving."

For the next few days at least, diving will be very high in the British consciousness thanks to the achievements of Waterfield and Taylor.

Just when it looked like Britain would end day one of the 28th Olympiad without a medal, they struck silver in the very last event.

After missing out on a medal in Sydney four years ago, the result was doubly sweet, though Taylor insisted they were slightly disappointed to have missed out on the gold, which was won by China's Tian Liang and Yang Jinhui.

"We've worked really hard for it over the last four years," said Waterfield, the younger half of the now famous double act by three years.

"We've had a few ups and downs but we've come through really well."

Waterfield twisted an ankle during a ballet lesson just five weeks before the Games and initially feared he might miss out.

"It's all down to the people at the EIS because they got me up and running in half the time it should have taken to get me up and running," he said.

"If it wasn't for them I might not have been here."

Preparations were also hit when both divers contracted a virus, which meant further time on the sidelines in the run-up to Athens.

But those setbacks were quickly forgotten when they secured silver with the very last dive of the competition.

"It was pretty intense," said Taylor, who once appeared in the TV soap Hollyoaks - playing an injured diver.

"We tried to keep our cool but that's not easy when you start number eight.

"Everyone has done their dives and it's easy to start trying to respond. But if you give it too much, you make a mistake."

It was all down to our last dive so it's a fairytale ending
Peter Waterfield
Waterfield admitted he almost blew their shot at a medal right at the death.

"I went a bit early because I was so fired up," he said.

As for Taylor, he had kept his emotions in check by refusing to look at the results after each round of dives.

"I don't like looking at the scoreboard, so I didn't really know where we were lying," he said.

"If I start watching the scoreboard I get distracted.

"I knew it was close. It was all down to our last dive, the hardest dive in the world, so it's a fairytale ending."

Fairytale maybe, but the reality is Britain have their first medal of the 2004 Olympics.

Links to more Olympics 2004 stories



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