Sarah Barrow has insisted Tonia Couch’s selection row rebuff will result in the Plymouth pair being “more fired up than ever” in search of their first Olympic diving medal.
European champions Barrow and Couch are Team GB’s synchro pairing for the London Olympic Games, and in the form of their lives.
Plymouth Diving’s Couch had been hoping to double up and compete in the individual ten metres platform event, as she had done four years ago at the Beijing Olympics.
Couch has been in impressive form all year in world-class events, culminating in second place behind Britain’s automatic qualifier Stacie Powell in the Olympic trials at Sheffield last month.
Couch thought she had done enough to win the second individual spot, but Team GB performance director Alexei Evangulov opted for Monique Gladding.
That sparked an appeal from Couch and her Plymouth and Team GB coach Andy Banks, which was rejected last Thursday.
Barrow said she felt great sympathy for her life-long friend, but insisted it would only serve to inspire them to prove a point at London’s Aquatic Centre this month.
“Naturally, I was upset for Tonia that she lost the [individual] place and the appeal,” Barrow said on her way to her official Games “kitting out” session with GB team-mates Couch, Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield at Loughborough University yesterday. “But we’re not going to let the affair distract us from our goal – which is to win an Olympic medal.
“If anything, it will put more fire in my belly, and I’m sure it will in Tonia’s, to make sure that we dive better than ever at the Olympics.
“Maybe, that’s part of the psychology that he [Evangulov] is using to try to get the best out of us.
“If it is, I don’t think it was necessary as we’re definitely in the world top five in synchro,” Barrow added.
“We’ve had a great year, we’ve won two world-class medals and had personal best points totals, as well and I know there’s a lot more to come from us. Having known each other most of our lives means we can almost second guess each other’s moods, as well as being really good and effective dive partners.
“I know that Tonia is hurting, but she’s like me and will want to make sure we come away from London knowing we’ve left nothing behind.
“We’re both convinced that we can win a medal at the Games, and our form in the Europeans, when we won gold and also in the World Cup series [in which we took a bronze], shows what we’re capable of. We won’t be letting anyone down – hopefully, the exact opposite.”