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Divers let down by lack of support’

PUBLISHED: 17:41 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:10 25 August 2010

BEIJING - AUGUST 11:  Blake Aldridge (L) and Thomas Daley of Great Britain competes in the held at the National Aquatics Center during day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. Blake Aldridge and Thomas Daley of Great Britain finish the race in eights place. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

BEIJING - AUGUST 11: Blake Aldridge (L) and Thomas Daley of Great Britain competes in the held at the National Aquatics Center during day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. Blake Aldridge and Thomas Daley of Great Britain finish the race in eights place. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

2008 Getty Images

A FORMER coach of Olympic diver Blake Aldridge has defended his behaviour during a disappointing dive with 14-year-old sensation Tom Daley, writes Kate Nelson.

A FORMER coach of Olympic diver Blake Aldridge has defended his behaviour during a disappointing dive with 14-year-old sensation Tom Daley, writes Kate Nelson.

Aldridge, 26, who used to train at Crystal Palace Diving Club, was slammed after making a poolside phone call to his mum just minutes before the duo's final jump in the men's synchronised event on Monday.

He later blamed their lacklustre performance, in which they came last, on his schoolboy partner's nerves, claiming Daley was "nowhere at the top of his game".

But speaking exclusively to Kentish Times Newspapers, Crystal Palace diving coach, Gill Snode, said both divers were let down by a lack of support.

She said: "I could see there was something wrong after their second dive. It was clear in their faces that there was no rapport between them. I don't understand what happened."

The spat came after Britain's second youngest male Olympian, Mr Daley, claimed he was antagonised by Aldridge's phone call, believing it showed a lack of concentration.

Speaking after the event, Aldridge said: "He had a pop at me before the last dive. I saw my mum in the audience and I asked her to give me a call and Tom went to me 'Why are you on the phone? We're still in the competition and we've got another dive to do.'

"That's just Thomas, he's over-nervous. Thomas should not be worrying about what I'm doing but he was worrying about everyone and everything and that to me is really the sole reason why he didn't perform."

Ms Snode coached Aldridge for over 12 years until he was 17 when he moved to Southampton. He later came back to Crystal Palace and trained under Olympic coach, Cheng Yang. She said: "I know Blake needs support during a competition and it looks like he looked to his mother for that. He beckoned to her because he knew it wasn't going well. But perhaps that support should have come from elsewhere.

"I don't want to criticise Team GB but shouldn't there have been some managers or coaches with them? They both looked alone. The whole world could see something was wrong by their expressions. There are things that can be done in between dives to help them focus, whether that be having a psychologist on hand or listening to music or whatever. The media attention really got to Thomas. He is only 14 and he was splashed all over the Chinese national newspapers. Thomas wasn't expecting to get a medal, for him it was about the experience but he and Blake were both hyped up so much.

"Thomas was nervous but Blake doesn't have any more Olympic experience than him so he had nothing to offer him in the way of support. You are only in charge of your own dive, you can't control the other persons."

Asked whether the pair deserved their placing, she said: "On that performance, yes they did. But people should remember that they came in the top eight of the world's teams which is an amazing achievement. They did not come last in the world."

Mr Daley's father, Rob Daley, 38, reportedly criticised Aldridge's outburst against his son, saying he doubted the pair would dive together again.

But Ms Snode added: "Thomas' dad should keep out of it. That's a decision for British Diving to make."

Three-time Olympic medallist Steve Backley, from Joyden's Wood, is commentating on the games on BBC Radio 5 Live.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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