Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tonia and Lois Have Bridged the Age Gap and Are Heading to Rio in Sync

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tonia and Lois Have Bridged the Age Gap and Are Heading to Rio in Sync

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie Sports Correspondent

AT 26, Tonia Couch is feeling her age. When she took up diving aged 10, her synchro partner Lois Toulson had not even been born. And with a decade separating them, Couch says she is the "mum of the group" in the British team at the European Aquatics Championships, which started today.

Thrown together at the start of the season, after regular partner Sarah Barrow suffered a shin problem ruling her out of the team for the Europeans at the Olympic pool in London, it proved to be an inauspicious start.

"I wouldn't say it was horrendous," Couch explains of her early dives off the 10metre platform with her 16-year-old partner.

"But it wasn't natural and you wouldn't have thought much would happen that quickly."

But the partnership has blossomed to the extent they go into the event ranked No1 in Europe and third in the world this season. Of the change, Couch says: "You just get on with it and I'm easy-going so I don't worry about things too much.

"But it must be hard for Sarah to watch.

I'm always there for her and it hasn't affected our friendship.

"She's kind enough to send a text wishing me good luck before each event and that can't be easy for her."

It was alongside Barrow that Couch finished fifth at London 2012 but it is with Toulson that she will almost certainly compete at the Rio Olympics this summer and bid to end a 56-year wait for an Olympic diving medal for a British woman.

With the Olympics following the Europeans, Couch claims it "should be the best year of my life".

Already, she appears to be in the form to make that statement come true. At her last World Series event, in Kazan, Russia, she finished with a silver medal in the individual event.

Regarding her upturn in fortunes, she says: "I can't explain it. I've not changed a thing. I've just tried to stay positive and have good thoughts. If I'm happy in life, I'm happy competing and that reflects in my diving. …

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