Leon Taylor: Olympic Athlete-Diving
Leon’s passion for everything he does has helped him achieve sustained success at the highest level. Considered a feat in itself for such a physically punishing sport, his career lasted more than 20 years and his successes brought diving to the attention of the British public.
Training in the pre-lottery funding era in a minority sport brought its challenges but in the Athens Olympics of 2004, Leon and his diving partner Peter Waterfield, managed to secure Britain’s first medal in the sport for 44 years. An honour which led to additional investment in the sport and the development of a new crop of British talent.
He is acknowledged within the sport for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. In 1998 he invented ‘the worlds most difficult dive’ – a backward 2.5 somersaults with 2.5 twists in the piked position. The dive carried a tariff of 3.8 and was the most difficult dive performed in competition. Following a rule change in 2009, the dive tariff was changed to 3.6 but the dive is a legacy that continues to live long after Leon’s competitive days.
Retiring from diving in May 2008, Leon is now an integral part of the BBC Sports Olympic coverage and has also been mentor to diving sensation Tom Daley. This latter role led him to write his first book. “MENTOR – The most important role you were never trained for” aimed at organisations wishing to engage and nurture talent through mentoring.
In addition he is a much sought after speaker and conference host, a Brand Ambassador for BMW, BT and Lloyds TSB. He has picked up numerous Hot Yoga teaching qualifications and has even taught the brilliant Justin Lee Collins to dive!
Leon is head judge on the Saturday night ITV show Splash!. Hosted by Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan, the contest sees Olympic hero Tom Daley teaching his sport to celebs, before they demonstrate their skills in a series of live shows.
Leon was a hyperactive child and his parents were advised by doctors to channel his energy and enthusiasm into sport. As a result, he was introduced to swimming and gymnastics from the age of two and started diving as “just another sport” when he was eight. Three years later, Leon was under 12 national champion.
Throughout a 16-year career representing GB Leon won medals at all major diving championships. He recovered from two separate shoulder surgeries to win a silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and later fulfilled a life-time ambition with his 2004 Olympic Silver medal in Athens.
Availability : 3rd-17th July 2016 & 4th – 18th December 2016