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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

Lois Toulson - performing under pressure and Olympic diving dreams

“To come away with a medal (from the Olympics), for the women in this sport would be amazing,” Lois Toulson tells the Women’s Sports Alliance (WSA).


Image courtesy of LEN - European Aquatics


With a host of World, European and Commonwealth medals to her name, Lois Touslon is one of Britain’s most successful female divers of all-time, but she insists the best is yet to come.


She was the youngest diver to be selected for the Team GB Olympic team back at the Rio 2016 Games, where together with veteran Tonia Couch the then 16-year-old finished fifth in the synchronised 10m platform final.


Five years later Lois and new partner Eden Cheng finished, but a year following those Games she claimed a stunning European title alongside another 10m specialist – Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix.


The pair have also enjoyed World Cup success early in the 2023 season giving them huge cause for optimism heading into a season which includes the crucial Olympic qualifying World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.


Lois spoke to the WSA in Sheffield ahead of the British Championships.


Image courtesy of British Swimming


Q – How much do you think you've learned and developed since we say you breakthrough at the Rio Olympics?

“I think I've definitely grown up a lot. I was kind of thrown in the deep end, when I first kind of came around in 2016 and the Rio Olympics were my first major international.


“I’d not done a World Championships or anything like that so it was a bit a bit strange because that’s not normally how it's done!


“I think that helped me though because I was kind of a bit naïve to it and I didn't feel any pressure because I was with Tonya and we had an amazing relationship.


“The last time around (for Tokyo 2020) I think I put way too much pressure on myself.


“That's something that we've worked on with my support team around me and I think we've definitely got into like a good place where I'm really enjoying diving again.”


Q – How much does having a strong synchronised partner help you individually, in terms of taking the pressure off one main event?


“I think it does, but I I definitely prefer being on 10m with someone else especially when you have a really good relationship and friendship which I think me and Anrea definitely have.


“Individual, I still find a bit nerve wracking sometimes, which is weird, because I've done so many competitions, but honestly every time it feels just exactly the same.


“I have a great synchro partner, good coach and a proper network around me, so hopefully, I'm able to perform at my best now.”


Q – Last year you claimed two Commonwealth silver medals and then two European titles, which was particularly impressive given you hadn’t been paired with Andrea for that long. What makes this partnership work so well?

“Yeah, we were kind of thrown together for Europeans, we hadn't even trained at all and the dives in the competition were maybe second time ever doing it.


“So to come away with a gold medal and quite a good score we were really happy with. We knew that we'd make a good partnership but to do that at a Europeans and show our potential was really exciting.”

Image courtesy of LEN and British Swimming


Q – It must make you really excited about the potential for further success in 2023 and beyond?

“I think it's probably one of the strongest positions that we've been in for a medal definitely.


“Last month at the World Series competitions we took silver behind the Chinese, which we were really pleased with. I know not all countries were there, but I think this puts us in good stead for the rest of the season.


“We all know that that potential is there and we’re seeing it as a positive, without stoking up the pressure too much.”

Q – 2023 is a big year as there’s a World Championships where Olympic places are up for grabs. How are you feeling ahead of this crucial summer season?


“It's definitely building and coming quite fast, which is good as the last cycle was a five year one, which felt really long and through COVID everything was a bit of a struggle.


“This this time round, I feel like I've definitely got a better mindset. Training is going well, I’ve a new coach, new partner and I’m really looking forward to diving with her in synchro hopefully at the World Championships and maybe individually as well – we’ll see!”


Q – In recent years it has been the British men who have been winning the Olympic medals and major World Championship honours. What would it mean for British women if you were able to get up on the podium this year and next?


“I think would be incredible. We've always been like, there are there abouts, but to actually, come away with a medal I think for the women in this sport would be amazing.


“It’s been a long time that we've been kind of chasing it, but there’s definitely potential on the 10 meter and in the three meter events.


“British diving is so strong right now and after overcoming a few hurdles we’re in a great place and things are looking good for the future.”

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