Daley’s coach compares diver to tennis underachiever Kournikova
British diving coach Alexei Evangulov delivers a fresh attack on Tom Daley, claiming he is wasting his chance of Olympic success
British diving coach Alexei Evangulov has delivered a fresh attack on Tom Daley – again claiming he is wasting his chance of Olympic success because of his continued media work.
Former world champion Daley was stunned when Evangulov criticised him for excessive media commitments earlier this month, claiming his rivals in China worked “three times harder”.
After finishing a disappointing seventh at the Olympic test event with synchro partner Peter Waterfield, the 17-year-old, a poster boy for Team GB at their home Games, hit back at critics, insisting he was working harder than ever to deliver on his promise this summer.
But Evangulov responded by comparing Daley with Anna Kournikova – who made millions from tennis because of her looks and profile but never won a single tournament as a singles player or went beyond the semi-finals of a Grand Slam event.
“It reminds me of the situation in Russia with Kournikova,” he said. “She looked pretty and she made a promising start to her career. However, the media exposure she received meant she never got to be the best or deliver on her potential.
“I am angry because nobody will listen to me. If he stopped all his media work now, I might be able to get him up to the third best diver in the world.
“I don’t mind what he does if he gets the medal. He can become a rock star then.”
Evangulov claimed he had been cast as a villain because of his criticism of the popular Daley, whose 200,000 Twitter followers have been quick to rally to his defence.
“A million people have been saying ‘Alexei, you’re a liar’ – but now you can see,” added Evangulov, after watching Daley and Waterfield’s performance at the £250m Olympic aquatic centre.
“The difference between me and the other people who love him is that I am an expert. I know how to win and they don’t.”
Daley’s profile soared when he was the youngest member of the British team in Beijing, one year later he won the world platform title in Rome and he tragically lost his influential father to cancer last year.
He has spoken of wanting to train as a TV presenter and became an internet sensation after shooting a spoof video during which he and members of the British diving team danced and lip-synched to LMFAO’s chart hit Sexy And I Know It.
“I’m doing as much as I can. I’m pushing myself as hard as I can go without my body breaking,” he insisted, after one poor dive cost him and Waterfield a podium place at the Olympic test event.
“Diving is something I love to do, it’s fun and I want to do well. That’s the only reason I’m in the sport.”