The Fina World Masters Championships in Budapest was an incredible experience. I made some new friends in the world of sport and more priceless memories that I will treasure forever.
As with every competition I am extremely hard on myself after the event - analyzing everything I did right and more importantly what I did wrong. Each competition is a learning experience and sometimes I just have to go back to the drawing board (or diving board should I say) to improve my skill set and performance level for the next competition.
I also learn a great deal from my fellow competitors and they push me to be a better athlete and diver every time we meet. Alexander Schultz from Germany scored 5 perfect 10's on one of his dives and I feel honoured to be counted amongst such talented and distinguished company.
I am a little disappointed with my performance - as I was leading after the second round and was holding on to the bronze medal position until the final dive. There were only 8 points separating myself in 4th and the silver medal. I'm kicking myself now as it was within my reach - but that's sport and you have to pull out the aces on the day. However, the experience only inspires me to keep pushing forward and striving to better myself. I think that is essentially my personal philosophy in life - to keep striving to be the best I can be and to learn and achieve as much as I can along the way.
Here's a short video of my performance in Budapest:
I also have to keep things in perspective - I am 4th in the world and that is no small achievement. In the bigger picture, I am so fortunate to be able to be out there doing what I love. Others are not so fortunate. My very good friend Lenny Larsen used to compete on the Masters circuit with me - but a few years ago he broke his neck in a trampoline training accident and is now in a wheelchair and uses a ventilator to breath. Lenny would love to be up there diving from 10m like we used to do so often together. In fact he inspired me to keep going and he still inspires me today. His attitude towards life is a lesson to us all and is still out on the pool deck coaching come rain and shine. He has also just undergone pioneering spinal surgery in the hope it will help others with spinal injuries. He is one awesome human being and I am so proud to be his friend.
The Fina World Championships were a phenomenal success and I'm extremely proud to have represented Great Britain at this prestigious international event. The calibre of athletes at the competition this year was better than ever with more and more Olympians and ex-national and international divers joining the circuit. So to all of you out there who thought your competitive days were behind you - get back on the boards and get involved.
Inspiring the youngsters
I love sport and i couldn't be a bigger advocate for it. It has given me so much and totally shaped my life and made me the tenacious individual I am today. The focus and discipline it has instilled in me was certainly the corner stone of my academic achievements and it has set me up for life in mind body and spirit. I try to share this message with everyone I meet, especially the kids of today.
I was fortunate to do a national tour encouraging kids to get involved in exercise and sport in schools across the country. The response was phenomenal. To think I could be instrumental in inspiring a new generation of athletes and perhaps even the stunt performers of tomorrow gives me more satisfaction than I could possibly describe. You see, I was once one of those kids sitting cross-legged on the assembly hall floor - and if I'd had a stuntman come in to my school and tell me that sport is a valid career choice and that I could make my living from being physical and doing what I love - well it would have made my journey a lot easier.
Budapest was an incredible city and the people of Hungary were the ultimate hosts. I'd never been to Budapest before this competition and I highly recommend a trip there. I am passionate about travel and truly believe it's the best education. A few highlights for me were the Széchenyi thermal baths in the City Park. Opened in 1913 it is the largest medicinal baths in Europe rich in sulphate calcium and magnesium. (Pic).
I passed through the historical Hero Square on the way. It is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The square lies at the outbound end of Andrássy Avenue next to City Park (Pic)
The perfect end to a great day was watching the sunset on the river Danube looking onto the Beautiful parliament building. Completed in 1904 it is the largest building in Hungary
If you would like to discover a taste of Hungary, here is a delicious Hungarian Goulash recipe with step-by-step guide and pictures. Enjoy!
When I land back in Blighty I'll be heading to Pinewood studios to work on another Disney blockbuster that I'm not allowed to talk about yet so I'll let you know the details as soon as I can.