Rio Olympics 2016: Jack Laugher and Chris Mears win historic diving gold

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GB's Mears and Laugher take superb synchro gold

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Great Britain's first Olympic diving gold medal with victory in the men's synchronised 3m springboard in Rio.

The pair produced a sparkling display to add the Olympic title to their Commonwealth and European crowns.

The Britons scored a total of 454.32 to end China's hopes of a clean sweep of diving golds at the Games.

Qin Kai and Cao Yuan had to settle for bronze (443.70) behind US pair Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon (450.21).

Laugher and Mears, who was given a 5% chance of surviving serious illness in 2009, stopped China winning a fourth gold in Rio.

The Chinese have dominated the sport for decades, having topped the medal table for seven successive Olympic Games and eight World Championships.

But their ambitions of winning all eight events in Brazil were ruined by the British pair, who live and train together in Leeds.

Laugher, 21, and Mears, 23, broke down in tears inside the open-air Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre when their victory was confirmed by Qin and Cao's faltering final dive.

"With the wind and the rain, it felt like English weather," said Yorkshireman Laugher. "We embraced it and we came out with a medal."

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears
Mears (left) and Laugher scored dives of 52.80, 53.40, 84.66, 85.68, 86.58 and 91.20

The pair led the standings from the end of round three, showing remarkable composure to continue setting the pace and then execute a brilliant final.

Americans Dorman and Hixon, who were third to go in the last round, set up a tense podium battle with an event-high final dive of 98.04.

Mears and Laugher scored 91.20 with a forward four-and-a-half somersault with tuck, leaving China needing more than 93.84 to win.

Qin and Cao, the reigning world champions, were the penultimate divers to go, but only scored 83.22 to spark jubilant celebrations among the British team.

Britain had only ever won eight previous Olympic medals - all silver and bronze.

From near death to Olympic gold

For Mears, winning an Olympic title came after seven years after contracting the life-threatening Epstein Barr virus.

The Reading diver was given a 5% chance of survival in January 2009.

He collapsed with a ruptured spleen, losing five pints of blood, before leaving hospital a month later after having his spleen removed.

Mears made a full recovery and returned to the pool in 2010, going on to finish fourth in the synchro at the Commonwealth Games.

"After going through all that horrible experience, just making the 2012 Olympics in London was enough for me. That was great," he told BBC Sport.

"But we were in a different position at this Games. We kind of thought we could get gold, but to actually get it is just incredible."

What a difference four years makes

Laugher was competing in his second Olympics after a miserable experience at the 2012 Games in London.

Then 17, he was the youngest person in the 3m individual springboard event and struggled for his best form at the Aquatics Centre.

It culminated in terrible final dive, which he mistimed to land feet first.

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Mixed fortunes for GB divers

"I feel like I had a point to prove here," he said. "That's why I was so emotional at the end. It was a reflection of how hard we have worked since London.

"This is the big one. To do it alongside my best friend it is beyond worth it. It is my absolute dream."

Analysis

Leon Taylor, 2004 Olympic synchro 10m silver medallist:

"After the hard work Chris and Jack have put in, to watch it unfold couldn't have been more dramatic. They were consistent and went all guns blazing. To be Olympic champions, it is unbelievable.

"The execution of their fifth dive was exceptional. I am delighted for British diving, they have worked so hard to get these athletes where they are."

'British divers love green pools'

Rio 2016: Laugher and Mears win gold
Daley, who won bronze in the synchro 10m platform alongside Dan Goodfellow on Tuesday, was among the first to congratulate his team-mates
Rio 2016
Former British swimmer Karen Pickering celebrated Laugher and Mears' by making reference to the Olympic diving pool changing colour
Rio 2016: Laugher and Mears win gold
ParalympicsGB swimmer Charlotte Henshaw hails another British success
Rio 2016: Laugher and Mears win gold
Leeds-born BBC Sport presenter Gabby Logan congratulated the British pair, who live and train in her home city
Rio 2016: Laugher and Mears win gold
Former England footballer Gary Lineker praised Laugher and Mears' historic achievement

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