Tom Daley’s mentor visits St Albans children’s centre
- Credit: Photos supplied by Anthony White
A former Olympic diver who admits he drove his parents “up the wall” with his boundless energy as a lad has visited a St Albans children’s activity centre to encourage youngsters to follow in his wake.
Having won a silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympics on the synchronised 10-metre platform with his partner Peter Waterfield, Leon Taylor credits his prowess at diving on moves he mastered as a toddler.
He recently visited Tumble Tots, Highfield Park, to teach kids about jumping, rolling, balancing and exercising.
Leon, 36, explained: “I drove my parents up the wall, and they were told by a doctor to either deal with it or have me take sedatives.”
His parents decided to channel his energy into sport, introducing him to Tumble Tots in Cheltenham.
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Yet his diving ability did not come to light immediately: “I was such a pain in the arse, and I was so uncoordinated as a toddler, but I got my start in the world of acrobatics at Tumble Tots.”
He later took to swimming like a duck to water and the gymnastic skills gained at the centre saw him start diving just before he turned nine.
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Leon explained: “Because I’d had seven years of gymnastics, I was already very skilled and so accelerated in the world of diving.”
After representing Great Britain for 16 years, and winning medals at all major diving championships, he retired from competing and turned to public speaking, writing an autobiography and being a BBC commentator.
Leon was recently mentor to members of the British diving team, including Tom Daley – supporting the diving sensation who won bronze in the individual 10m platform dive at London 2012, and joining him on his television show Splash as a judge.
Miriam Leary-White, director of Tumble Tots in St Albans, said: “Leon is a firm believer in an active lifestyle and knows the importance of encouraging children to be active.”