Jack Laugher and Lois Toulson: Dating, diving and dining a 'recipe for success'

Jack Laugher, left, with now girlfriend Lois Toulson and Matthew Lee at the 2017 World Diving Championships in Budapest
Jack Laugher, left, with now girlfriend Lois Toulson and Matthew Lee at the 2017 World Diving Championships in Budapest

One is an established champion diver who "rustles up a good curry", the other a rising star of the sport who can "nail a paella".

Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher, 24 and European title-holder Lois Toulson, 19, are of an age where their peers are more likely to be devouring takeaways and enjoying nights out than spending cosy evenings cooking at home.

However, this couple believe theirs is a recipe for success in dating - and diving.

"We're probably seen as pretty reclusive," says Laugher, while laughing and demonstrating just how happy he is with life right now.

Toulson, who is equally as relaxed sitting on their sofa surrounded by Union flag-branded cushions, insists they "love quality time together" but, with a wry smile, adds it's "sometimes nice to get a little quiet time when Jack's on the PlayStation".

Team policy dictates they will be in separate rooms for the World Aquatics Championships, which get under way on Friday in Gwangju, South Korea.

However, that will not stop them becoming "lead cheerleaders" for one another when they bid for Olympic places in their respective events.

'He's messy, she hides my stuff'

Jack Laugher and former house-mate Chris Mears on the podium with their silver medals after finishing second in the men's synchronised 3m springboard at the 2018 European Championships in Edinburgh
Jack Laugher and former house-mate Chris Mears on the podium after finishing second in the men's synchronised 3m springboard at the 2018 European Championships

Up until last year Laugher lived with Olympic gold-medal winning synchronised diving partner Chris Mears in a flat they purchased together in Leeds.

However, he bought out Mears after the aspiring music producer and DJ opted to take a break from sport and move back to where he grew up in Southampton.

Toulson made her Olympic debut, at the age of 16, three years ago and still officially lives with her parents, but she spends most of her time at Laugher's flat and the couple hope to purchase somewhere together this year.

"Chris was always a breath of fresh air and he was a good cook as well," he says with a smile when recalling the make-up of Britain's most successful diving pair.

"In the final years of living together I was doing a lot of cleaning-up though and I wasn't good at it either, so it was a big burden to bare."

Toulson gently suggests the change has potentially been both a "blessing and a curse" for her boyfriend, who admits himself that tidying up has "created issues".

"She's really good at it, but it can be annoying," says Laugher, with a look many in a relationship will relate to. "I'll have a letter and know where it is and then she'll put it in a draw and it'll never be seen again."

Laugher a 'pretty good role model and boyfriend'

Jack Laugher and Lois Toulson
Lois on Jack: "If I'm having a bad day he can always tell. We both understand what one another is going through."

Laugher confesses that when they began dating in early 2017 he was "concerned" about the impact of spending all of their time together diving and at home, but reveals, with a degree of relief, that they seem to have found a "perfect balance".

"We have very different personalities in terms of how we deal with things, but that actually brings us together really well," he tells BBC Sport.

"I like talking things through and getting everything off my chest, which Lois is really good at helping me with, but she's quite different."

2018 European champion Toulson clarifies: "I don't really like to talk about my problems, but if I'm having a bad day he can always tell and he'll do anything to get it out of me, which does definitely make me feel better in the end.

"He's a pretty good role model and boyfriend I guess," adds Britain's leading female 10m diver, before turning to Laugher and bursting into laughter with him.

"We're both high up in our sport, we both understand what one another are going through and support each other the best we can."

'She's going to have a brilliant career!'

The couple will certainly be drawing on each other's support at the World Aquatics Championships when they begin their respective campaigns this weekend.

They must win a medal in their respective synchronised events to claim a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, while reaching the final in their individual competitions would unlock a berth in those events for next year's Games.

"Everyone always asks if I get nervous watching him, but I never do because everything is out of my hands," states Toulson, who will compete with Eden Cheng in the synchronised 10m platform competition on Sunday.

"When I compete I don't think about him - although I can sometimes hear him - and he's the same when he dives."

Laugher adds: "I love watching her and she's so talented, almost turning 20 now with so much ahead of her and she's really going to have a brilliant career."

Laugher himself already has Olympic, European and Commonwealth titles to his name, but only a pair of 2015 bronze medals to show from the four World Championships he has competed in.

Lois Toulson smiles at her supporters on the podium as she collects her gold medal for winning the 10m synchronised final at the 2018 European Championships in Edinburgh
Lois Toulson smiles at her supporters as she collects her gold medal for winning the 10m synchronised final at the 2018 European Championships in Edinburgh

However, performances in this year's World Series suggest he is in career-best form and victory in Gwangju would see him the first British diver to complete a 'grand slam' of major diving honours.

"It's the one that's always kind of got away and it would be great to complete the set, but diving is a tough sport and it's about performing on the day," he said.

The pair will have a second chance to qualify for the Olympics via the World Cup in Tokyo next year should they miss out through this year's Worlds - and they know they can rely on each other for support.

"It's about working together, keeping each other happy and in a positive mindset so that we can both put our best performances out there," Toulson tells BBC Sport.

"Both of us compete at our best when we are happy, so luckily we have each other to help us do that," adds Laugher, who admits he's already looking forward to returning to Leeds and cuddling up to watch 'Brooklyn 99' on Netflix with his girlfriend.

"When it boils down to it, we're just two best mates who enjoy their sport and spending time together."

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