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Students take the plunge and interview Olympic stars for awards message

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

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SPORT and media students from South Devon College were invited to Plymouth College to record an exclusive video interview with Olympic stars Tom Daley and Ruta Meilutyte for the Torbay Sports Awards.

Daley, who won bronze in the diving, and Meilutyte, a 15-year-old won sensationally won gold in the pool, recorded a special video message for the awards, which was broadcast at the start of the gala ceremony.

Daley also highlighted the importance of local sports awards and urged more people to nominate high achievers in their local awards, athletes, teams, coaches or volunteers.

The video messages were recorded by students Lana Taylor (Level Three Sports Studies), Abbie Meyer (Level Three Sports Studies) , Deanna Baker (Foundation Degree Sports Science), Ben Hilborne (basketball academy), Andrew Baldwin (fitness diploma), Finlay Wilkins and Ashley Carter (Creative Media Production), who interviewed the diver to find out all about his busy lifestyle, his training, diet, hobbies and competitions.

The students arrived at Plymouth College, set up the video cameras and waited, with slightly nervous anticipation, for Daley to arrive in his morning break.

He arrived promptly and put everyone immediately at ease with a cheery 'hi guys' before effortlessly answering everyone's questions.

He answered questions about how his life had changed since the London Olympics, and apart from the obvious fame and recognition he described it as 'crazy' and 'surreal'.

Far from resting after the build-up to the London Games, Daley still trains five hours a day, while fitting in school and interviews on the side.

When asked if he has time for other hobbies, he expectedly answered 'not really' and explained that he's schedule is pretty full with his training commitments and school work at the moment, although he hopes to go into media work in the future.

One student asked Daley: "Do you see yourself as an athlete or celebrity?"

He replied simply 'an athlete' he then explained that diving is the reason he came into the public eye in the first place.

Daley was also asked: "Do you have any rituals before diving?"

Daley described it more as a routine he has a 'drink', 'does a visualisation of the dive', puts the towel over his head and lastly goes through the 'movements of the dive'.

When asked about his techniques, Daley said he believes that diving is a very 'on the day' sport and explained although he qualified 15th for the Olympic final, his performance on the day saw him finish third.

Known for performing well under high levels of pressure, Daley said 'experience' was the key, as he has also competed in the Commonwealth Games, World championships and the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The questions then turned to his diet which is not quite as strict we expected, he explained that he can have a few lapses in the off season period.

If he feels good while training he'll try to stay at that weight. However he has to regularly be weighed and he has to particularly watch his diet when a competition is coming up like the nationals, which are his next major competition, coming up in February.

Daley clearly is dedicated to his diving, and when asked about any previous incidents and accidents, he pointed out a scars from hitting his head on the diving board, and described how landing flat in the water at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour is quite painful, and can cause you to cough up blood from the impact.

However, none of these incidents appear to have put him off diving which shows his commitment.

The students also had the opportunity to interview 15-year-old gold-medal-winning swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, who is originally from Lithuania. When comparing the two young athletes they found similarities in attitude, drive and a clear passion for their sports.

When asked the obvious question, 'why did you choose swimming?' she said that her parents wanted her to start swimming so she would not be afraid of water and from then on she enjoyed it and carried it on.

She was then asked 'why Plymouth?' and explained her father moved to Plymouth and they recognised it had an outstanding education and swimming programme.

Meilutyte said being an athlete can often mean she can't do what normal teenagers do as she doesn't have a lot of spare time to go out and have fun with her friends.

However she doesn't feel this is a sacrifice because she wants to achieve at swimming more than she wants to go out and have fun.

Meiltyte said her Olympic experience was 'extraordinary' and one that she will 'remember forever' and that it was 'one of the greatest experiences of her life'.

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