A YOUNG Southend diver has been labelled “exceptional” by a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist and backed him to compete at the 2020 Olympics.
Tyler Humphreys, 11, is seen as one of the brightest prospects British diving has seen in a generation and he is so highly regarded by his club that he has been fast-tracked onto a special course for top divers.
The man who spotted his potential is Chris Snode, four-time gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games, three metre springboard World Champion and three-time Olympic Games competitor.
Snode, who won gold in the three metre springboard and 10 metre platform in both the 1978 and 1982 Games, insists the Southend youngster has the potential to emulate English sensation Tom Daley and would be a global star if he kept progressing at the same rate.
“He is exceptional,” said Snode, who is the director of diving at Crystal Palace. “He has fantastic spatial awareness and a perfect body for diving.
“He also competes really well which may sound odd, but a lot of youngsters struggle when it comes to competition – not Tyler. He is also extremely diligent in his work.
“I have coached around 118,000 young divers in the last seven years and Tyler is right up there in the top six or so I have seen.
“He seems to have everything and I want Tyler to be competing in junior european championships in the near future.
“We are aiming to have him ready to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.”
Already a National diving champion, Tyler is performing advanced dives despite being only 11-years-old, including two-and-a-half twist somersaults, backwards and reverse dives.
He recently upset the odds to claim gold in the fourth Trofeo Bimbingamba, in Rome – an international junior diving event – where he was moved up an age group to the under-14 category, where he was the youngest competitor.
He recently broke a nine-year record held by Daley in the three metre springboard National Age Group Championships and the starlet, who is starting at Shoebury High School this year, is being taught by the same man who tutored the recently crowned Commonwealth 10m platform champion.
In fact, 72-year-old Chen Wen has such faith in Tyler that he came out of retirement to help coach him.
The former British Olympic head coach tutors an elite team of “super kids” at Crystal Palace, travelling 230 miles from Sheffield to train Tyler five times a week.
As Snode put it, Tyler is “a little machine” and, a star of tomorrow.