We chatted to Team GB diver Dan Goodfellow on his preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, how he relaxes after a hard day of training and why home support is so important.
How are you feeling ahead of Tokyo?
I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve just come off the back of a World Cup and Europeans – the World Cup went really well and the Europeans not so much. It’s been pretty full on this year in terms of training. They’re the only competitions we’ve done but going forward, I’m feeling pretty confident about the synchro event. So overall I’m feeling excited.
It will be great to compete in Tokyo – our first competition in a very long time. It’s important to get as many competitions under our belt as possible because I’m still fairly new to the springboard. I’ve got more experience on the tower but obviously I’m not doing it anymore, so anything we can do in terms of getting more experience, any competitions we can compete in, is a positive. The more we do together and the more we compete together, the better we are.
Why did you choose to switch from platform to springboard?
On platform I’ve had a lot of injuries, just because of the impact with which you hit the water – it’s a lot harder than on the 3m, obviously with how high up you are. I’ve had shoulder problems, neck problems, triceps problems, and I think it came at the right time when Chris retired from doing synchro with Jack, so I could be Jack’s partner, and then Matty went up to do synchro with Tom. It worked out quite nicely in that respect – it means I can train now and not have to worry as much about injuries. I can concentrate more on my diving now rather than just waking up, coming into training and being worried about getting injured.
The springboard’s more focused on power and strength in your legs, whereas the tower’s all about having that upper-body strength to be able to pull yourself through the water – I think you’re hitting the water at about 30mph on the 10m so your upper body has to be a bit more stable and a bit more conditioned. With the springboard, you’re having to create force yourself and make the board move, so your legs have to be really strong. It’s just different types of training – I’m doing a lot more weights training now for springboard as opposed to doing stability work. A lot of people just focus on one so it’s nice to be able to be someone who can do a bit of both.
Do you enjoy the new training?
I actually quite enjoy it! When you do something for so long it can become a bit monotonous, so having a bit of a difference in your training environment is always good. Again I think it just gives you a bit more motivation when you’re training as well, because you can come to training every day and you don’t have to do the same things you do all the time. It’s given a bit of a new burst of life into my diving career. I don’t really mind the leg days – I’m enjoying my training more than ever now doing the springboard, so I’m not just doing better on the springboard but I’m also enjoying it a lot more.
How’s your partnership with Jack going?
Compared to the other pairs we’re competing against I’d probably say we were the least experienced. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I think we’re also one of the better pairs going to the Olympics. It just means that anything we can do between now and then to get some practice in together is a bonus. They say practice makes perfect, but the more practice you get, the better you are going to be, especially in a repetition sport like diving. It was nice to see where we were at and what we need to fine-tune before the Olympics.
Do you and Jack have different strengths and weaknesses?
I think we’re able to help each other. Jack’s been doing springboard for years and he’s been at the top of the game for a long time. I think there’s still stuff he can learn from me – which is nice – and there are things that I obviously can learn from him. I think we bounce off each other quite well. It almost seems like his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa – I think between now and the Olympics it’s just about trying to help one another as much as we can, to get to the point where we’re both performing as well as we can. We’re only going to perform as well as our weakest link, so we just have to try and make each other the best we possibly can be.
What are your aims for Tokyo?
I’d be disappointed if me and Jack didn’t come away with a medal. I think we’ve shown we’ve got that potential over the couple of years we’ve been doing synchro. But we know that diving’s diving – it’s not as consistent as other sports. You’ve got six dives, you probably spend a total of 18 seconds doing all your dives, and it’s just a straight final so anything can happen on the day. I’d like to say we’d come away with a medal – I’m not saying gold is out of the question but there are a lot of strong pairs in there.
How do you like to relax after a day’s training?
My life doesn’t get much more exciting than going to training every day, coming back, playing some games, and then spending time with my girlfriend. When you’re training you don’t really get much time to do anything else. There are a lot of things I want to do – I’d like to play other sports, go out with my mates - but at the moment it’s critical that I focus on my training. It’s a continuous cycle of train, recover, rest and repeat. It’ll probably be like that until the Olympics – it sounds sad, but that’s what we’re training for, it only comes around every four years – or five years in this case.
Gaming is my main hobby outside of sport, and I also like watching esports events. I’m also a fan of regular sports. I support Arsenal and I’m a big football supporter, I’ve really got into F1 recently as well so I’m enjoying that being back on the TV.
Is it hard to keep that discipline?
Some weekends all you want to do is drive home, see my mates and have a few drinks. I’m sure a lot of people want to do that. It’s hard – especially when the weather’s good – and you see all your mates doing stuff. It’s hard to stay disciplined in that respect, but in other aspects such as my diet, my attitude towards recovery and training – I think it’s easy because you’re just trying to become the best athlete possible, you know what the end goal is and you’re working towards it.
Do you enjoy other sports?
I played football a lot when I was younger. I was pretty good, but ever since I’ve been training I haven’t been able to play it because all it takes is one dodgy ankle roll or a bad tackle and you’re out for a few months. I’d like to start playing football again, and start playing golf. I’m not very good at golf but I’d like to practice and improve.
How is the Team GB diving team looking ahead of Tokyo?
The diving team is looking really, really strong – I’d say even stronger than we were in 2016. I think there’s the potential for us to win quite a few medals, especially because I know a lot of nations have not qualified spots who probably should have. There are also some people who just aren’t able to go, some people have retired – I think the fact we’ve got such a strong team, and maybe other teams aren’t as strong as they would like to be – is really good for us.
I guess I am one of the senior members of the team, which is weird because I’m only 24. There are a lot of people going out for their first Olympics. I never really see myself as a senior team member but I guess in a way I am. It’s probably something you’d need to ask the youngsters!
Did you make any unlikely friends in Rio?
The Olympics is a multi-sport event and you don’t get many of them. You find yourself spending time and talking to people from completely different cultures and from the other side of the world. A sport like BMX – the fact you can share your experience with people that have all got the same goal, but a completely different path, is really nice. We had our own block as Team GB in 2016, and I’m assuming it’s going to be similar at this Games. The fact you’re in that close-knit area with people from your own country gives a greater sense of support, because it’s not just your teammates cheering for you, it’s your teammates from different disciplines.
Will it be tough that friends and family can’t go to Tokyo?
I’m sure lots of my friends and family would have wanted to go out there and support me, but we haven’t really even thought of that because of everything going on.
What do you think of the Purplebricks Home Support campaign?
It’s massive and the Olympics is something we can all get behind and I think it’s going to be a really good summer of sport. People love sitting down and watching sporting events, and it’s really important for them be able to get behind the athletes who are competing in those events.