Jack Laugher needs to overcome 'panic and pressure' if he is to retain Olympic title in Tokyo

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Jack Laugher
Laugher won European silver in the 1m event but was only sixth in his Olympic disciplines in Hungary

Olympic champion Jack Laugher says he must go "back to basics" if he is to recapture the form that saw him claim gold and silver medals at Rio 2016.

Laugher won European silver in the non-Olympic 1m event in Budapest last week, but was a surprise sixth in his main individual and synchronised 3m events.

He says the pressure he puts on himself is also leading to "terrible results".

"At the moment I'm panicking, getting lost and I don't know where I am when I'm diving," he told BBC Sport.

Laugher won synchronised 3m gold alongside former diving partner Chris Mears at the last Olympics and also claimed individual silver in Brazil.

Three Commonwealth and two European titles followed in 2018 and he was on the brink of a maiden world gold the following year, before a slipping to third with a poor final dive.

Laugher was highly critical of himself at the time, saying he felt he had "let people down" and said the result would "haunt" him for the rest of his career.

"I've changed a lot of things [since then] and I think I've created some mistakes trying to pursue technical textbook perfection," continued the 26-year-old.

"I struggle with the pressure I put on myself sometimes and I think because of my success in the past I'm maybe too hard on myself, chasing something that's not quite there yet."

"For me now, it's just about stripping things back to the basics and finding the flow of how I used to do my diving."

Laugher won gold alongside Daniel Goodfellow at the Olympic test event in Japan earlier this month and says he takes "a lot of encouragement" from that result.

BBC diving commentator Leon Taylor, an Olympic silver medallist in 2004, believes Laugher has every chance of rediscovering his peak form in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

"He's become a little obsessed with the details and when you start to panic it's a huge problem as a diver because that leads to more anxiety and fear," he said.

"He needs a bit of time to unwind, but we're only talking about him needing to find his way back to where he was rather than learn something new, so he can potentially reset in a week."

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