THE shadow of Tom Daley looms large over diving in Great Britain and Ross Haslam knows that better than most.
But on Wednesday the Sheffield diver went some way to stepping out from under it after claiming silver alongside Grace Reid in the synchronised 3m springboard at the European Championships.
The Sheffield diver, 20, has stepped into Daley’s sizeable boots this summer as the double Olympic medallist takes a leave of absence from the sport to look after his newborn son.
If it was not pressure enough to be stepping in for a legend of the sport, Haslam also had to contend with the fact that Daley has been in Edinburgh all week on media duty for the BBC.
But Haslam held his nerve to claim a maiden European medal – the duo combining for a personal best score of 308.67 from five dives as gold went to the German pair of Lou Massenberg and Tina Punzel.
It was only Reid and Haslam’s second competition as a pair – they also claimed World Cup bronze in China in June.
And Haslam – who was one of the few divers not to claim a Commonwealth medal in the Gold Coast earlier this year – loved his moment in the spotlight.
“It is a bit of pressure obviously. Tom Daley is Tom Daley – whenever I tell anyone that I dive, they ask: ‘Oh, like Tom Daley?,” he said.
“He is the person that people refer to when it comes to diving.
“But it has been great to be here, diving with someone who is Scottish in Grace in Scotland – it has been great to be a part of it.
“It has been a frustrating year for me, missing out on selections for individuals and things like that.
“But to come here and do what we needed to do and get a medal makes me very happy – we are absolutely chuffed.”
Indeed, Reid was full of praise for her new partner after their silver-medal effort and revealed that Daley had dropped in to wish them well before the competition.
“Ross is a credit to himself, he did get stepped in at the last minute and it has been fantastic from the get go. He is really adaptable and that is what you need in this sport,” she added.
“As much as Tom is a great friend and a great teammate, I have loved every second of doing synchro with Ross and it is a great partnership.
“We bumped into Tom a couple of days ago and he said: I hope you do well, but not too well!
“There is some healthy rivalry there and it pushes us to all be better as a team – he didn’t let us off without a comment!”
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