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Daley aims to start British medal rush
9:31am Tuesday 15th May 2012 in General Sport
Tom Daley will bid to kick-off a British medal rush when the European Diving Championships begin in Eindhoven tonight.
The 17-year-old will headline one of the strongest British teams in recent memory as they make their final preparations for this summer's London Olympics.
Britain has enjoyed unprecedented success in the diving pool so far this season, highlighted by four medals at last month's final round of the World Series in Tijuana, Mexico.
Those medals came in the company of the all-conquering Chinese and with the field narrowed in Holland over the next six days, Britain will look to become a dominant force.
Former platform world champion Daley is the headline maker in the team, with the teenager in arguably the best form of his career.
He proved himself the best of the rest behind China's untouchable champion Qiu Bo in the World Series, winning silver in the opening three legs, before taking gold in Tijuana when Bo was absent.
He returns to Eindhoven four years after winning the European platform title as a 13-year-old and will be favoured to reclaim the crown injury prevented him from defending in Budapest two years ago.
Daley's hopes of a memorable double were, however, were dashed when his synchro partner, Southampton’s Peter Waterfield, pulled out with a neck injury.
The 31-year-old decided not to travel as a precaution as he looks to ensure his health for next month's Olympic qualifiers in Sheffield.
Daley could yet stand on the dais twice this week though as he will compete in the non-Olympic mixed team event alongside Becky Gallantree to kick-off the competition tonight.
The duo finished fourth together two years ago, in an event that combines dives from the 10metre platform and 3m springboard, before Daley's injury struck.
Britain's medal hopes will not, however, rest with their poster boy Daley to underline the strength of the current 11-member team.
Women's platform synchro team Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow will look to continue their breakthrough season on Thursday night.
After finishing fourth at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and then again at last year's World Championships, the pair finally got on the podium when they took bronze at February's World Cup.
Another bronze followed in Tijuana last month and Crouch said: "It was good to get on that podium, especially in a major competition.
"It definitely gave us that extra bit of belief we needed after the World Champs.
"We showed we were close but to do it was important."
In the men's competitions springboard synchro pair Nick Robinson-Baker and Southampton Diving Academy member Chris Mears catapulted themselves into Olympic calculations when they snatched silver behind China in Tijuana.
It was their first global medal together and another on Friday night would help cement their credentials.
Double junior European champion Jack Laugher will also have designs on a medal in his senior debut in the competition.
The 17-year-old, touted as a future world champion by diving great Greg Louganis, has gone some way to vindicating that claim this year after establishing himself as a fixture in the world's top eight.
Laugher, who will compete in the 3m springboard on Thursday night, faces world-class competition though from Germany's defending champion Patrick Hausding and Russian duo Evgeny Kuznetsov and Illya Zakharov.