Jack Laugher’s Commonwealth Games began as he strode into Alexander Stadium as one of England’s flagbearers in the opening ceremony, and then he opened his competition on Thursday with a gold medal. The wins continue to rain down on him. Less than 24 hours later, he collected his second gold of this year’s Games, winning the men’s synchronized 3m springboard title alongside his partner, Anthony Harding.
What marks a third straight gold medal in the event for Laugher, his eighth medal in total, is the first Commonwealth Games medal of any color for Harding, a 22-year-old competing in his first Games. Laugher and Harding’s partnership was established at the end of last year, but they have already achieved considerable success after winning silver at the world championships this year.
These experiences have been a long time coming for Harding, whose biggest previous successes were two bronze medals at the European Championships in 2019. He talked in depth about the difficulty of waiting for his opportunity to compete at major events with such fierce competition for places in Great Britain’s men’s diving squad.
“This is my second international in two, three years,” he said. “The 3m men’s in Britain is so tough, it’s so hard to get on the big stage. I’ve worked so hard. I’ve had to be patient, I’ve had to wait for it, really. It’s thanks to Jack for seeing me in training and seeing how good I can be and trusting in me, believing in me.”
With only five teams competing for the three medals, it was a rapid final with no time to waste. The English pair started as favourites, their supreme difficulty affording them a huge cushion. Their lowest difficulty dive, 3.4, was equal to the highest offering of the rest of the field.
They immediately distanced themselves as the optional dives began, establishing a big gap from the third dive and extending their lead until they finished with a score of 483.33, a huge 61.56 points clear of silver medalists, Malaysia. Despite their lead, they put everything on the line, finishing with the hardest dive in the world, a forward two and a half somersaults with three twists.
Even though they were successful, Laugher was critical of his performance, particularly after underrotating the final dive. He said that he had slept badly after the joy of his first victory and it had affected his performance. In the same breath, he heaped praise on his young partner as they took another step towards their goal of forging a partnership that can compete for the biggest prizes at the 2024 Olympics. “To say that I had a couple of hours’ sleep and then went out there and performed one of the hardest dives in the world alongside a great synchro partner was obviously pretty good,” he said.