Budapest 2017 preview: Jack Laugher, Chris Mears and Tom Daley among contenders

Tom Daley
Tom Daley is looking to put his disappointment from the Rio Olympics behind him
World Aquatics Championships
Venue: Budapest, Hungary Dates: 14-21 July Coverage: Live across BBC television, online, mobile app and Connected TV. Full coverage details.

A lot of water, and not the pea-green stuff we saw in the pool at last year's Olympics, has flowed in the past 11 months where British diving is concerned.

Two of its best coaches have been poached by Australia off the back of the best Olympics Britain has had on the diving boards.

Ady Hinchliffe, instrumental in the gold medal won by Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the 3m synchro - and the silver medal earned by Laugher, is now down under along with Andy Banks, who coached Tom Daley during his formative years and was made an MBE in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Many within the sport feel British Swimming, which overseas all aquatic sports in Great Britain, did not do enough to keep two men with over 40 years of experience between them.

It is to be hoped the new chief executive, Jack Buckner, who takes up his post in September, will try to coax both Hinchliffe and Banks back to coaching programmes in the UK after Tokyo 2020. Both still have a great deal to offer the sport in Great Britain.

That's not to say Britain is bereft of talent in that department. Far from it. Edwin Jongejans, a Dutch former international diver, and Marc Holdsworth are continuing the legacy in Leeds, and there are also great programmes and excellent coaches in places such as Sheffield, Southampton and Edinburgh.

One thing Rio did do is take a large part of the focus off Tom Daley.

With Laugher's exploits, and Daley's capitulation in the semi-finals of the 10m competition following record-breaking preliminaries, the mantle of top dog in terms of expectation falls firmly on the shoulders of the 22-year-old from Yorkshire.

Laugher has rebuilt his career brilliantly since his own Olympic nightmare in London. A knee buckle in the 3m competition made the BBC's Top 50 bloopers from London 2012, but he hasn't looked back - much of that down to Hinchliffe.

Chris Mears and Jack Laugher
Chris Mears and Jack Laugher having formed a formidable partnership, winning gold in Rio

Laugher and Chris Mears are a very special synchro partnership. I nicknamed them 'The Likely Lads' at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as they are like the modern embodiment of the sitcom characters from the '60s and '70s. Men Behaving Badly might have been a better analogy, but their chemistry within diving is unique, and the scenes that followed their success in Brazil last summer summed up what the pair are really like.

Mears savours every competition, as well he might. In 2009 he ruptured his spleen during training for the Youth Olympic Festival in Australia and was given just a 5% chance of survival. He was told he would never dive again. Fast forward seven years and there he is at the top of the Olympic medal rostrum. Truly one of the more remarkable stories in sport.

Will he and Laugher be able to back up Olympic gold with first at the World Championships?

China's Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi won three of the four World Series events this year, with the British pair runners-up in all of those competitions. Laugher and Mears do have a higher-tariff programme than the Chinese pair, and if they get it right, as they did so spectacularly in Rio, it could be a close-run thing.

Don't rule out Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilia Zakharov either. They won the World Series event in Canada back in April.

How about Tom Daley?

Britain's highest-profile diver ever is looking to put his individual woes in Rio behind him. His excellent bronze medal with Dan Goodfellow in the 10m synchro was rather overshadowed by what occurred on the final day of competition at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre.

Had it turned out differently it's unlikely we would be seeing the 23-year-old at the Worlds, or even at another Olympics.

Speculation was rife, though never confirmed by the man himself, that success in Rio on the 10m board would have led to his retirement from the sport. Newly married to Dustin Lance Black, and with many things he wants to do away from the rigours of plunging at 35mph into a pool, Daley has, nonetheless, set his sights on Tokyo - if the body will stand it.

Daley, in common with many platform divers, has suffered back problems over the years (you'll notice in Budapest how many of the competitors are held together with the equivalent of medical sticky tape).

On his day, as he's proved at world and European level, Daley can be the number one diver. But it's an incredibly competitive event - as well as China, the USA, Australia, Mexico and now France have athletes who can get medal positions. One dropped dive out of six can mean curtains for a top-three place.

Who else should you look out for?

Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson
Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson finished fifth in the synchronised 10m platform at Rio 2016

Tonia Couch has been the trailblazer for Britain's women in recent years, but that looks set to change with the emergence of her synchro partner Lois Toulson.

The 17-year-old from Leeds is the new European champion in the 10m individual, accumulating a world-class 330.75 points in Kiev last month to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice.

As she prepared to compete in Hungary, she said: "I am not totally satisfied with my dives yet. I gained a lot of experience for the World Championships."

Not content with that gold, Toulson partnered Matty Lee to triumph in the mixed synchro, which is not, as yet, an Olympic event. That goes to underline the fact she is a very special individual, and Holdsworth's expert guidance will allow her to blossom still further.

Another pairing from West Yorkshire, Ruby Bower and Phoebe Banks, also won European gold - in the platform synchro, ahead of the very experienced Russian Yulia Timoshinina and partner Valeriia Belova.

Like Toulson in her main event, Bower and Banks finished strongly, showing that all-important mental strength which will be key to their ambitions of success at Tokyo 2020.

Girl power, it seems, has arrived for Great Britain in a big way on the 10m board, and Laugher and Daley may have to share the limelight before too long.

But knowing and observing the infrastructure of British Diving over the past 20 years, everyone feeds off each other's success, so any egos are kept firmly in check.

And finally, just a word for Yona Knight-Wisdom.

Not a member of the GB team in Budapest, but Jamaica's only Olympic diver, who exceeded expectations by qualifying for Rio last August.

Leeds-born, of Jamaican and Bajan parents, Knight-Wisdom is an unconventional diver in so many senses, not least the fact that he's 6ft 3in and over 14st.

He'll be hoping to make the semi-finals of the 3m springboard event and, having reached the last 18 at the Olympics and finished second at one of the World Cup events last year, that is certainly within his compass.

Top Stories