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Digital Subscriptions > > HIGH DIVER


Along with his three-metre synchro partner, Jack Laugher, friend-of-Winq Chris Mears won Team GB s first-ever Olympic gold diving medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. A long-standing LGBT ally, here he talks green pools, the washing machine, tabloid rumours about his sexuality and why men hugging men is a good thing



We’ve met Chris Mears before. He was kind enough to climb into small swimwear for the first UK edition of Winq magazine three years ago. He returned 12 months later, having won Commonwealth gold with dive partner Jack Laugher.

Since then, nigh radio silence. Life was about nothing but the Olympic Games in Rio this past summer, the focus absolute. Life as an underwear model, or a burgeoning career as a DJ, could wait. History was calling for a man who could use a bit of triumph to offset the tragedy.

“I live my life intent on making the most of everything. I lost my mum to cancer when I was very young, and I’ve nearly died myself – so, really, you have to do your best to seize the day.”

Chris calls this his ‘life philosophy’. He has a long-time stepmum he thinks of as mum, a loving dad and younger brother, too. “All I’m saying,” he half-grins, “is when I’m having a bad day, I just sit and find perspective. There’s bad, and there’s really bad. And if it’s not really bad, it can’t really matter.”

Fair enough. Aged just 16 he was clinging to life. He was in Australia for the Youth Olympic Festival when an extended period of tiredness his teammates imagined to be jet-lag manifested as something more sinister.

It transpired he’d got glandular fever, but instead of displaying in his glands, it landed in his spleen which, having swollen to displace his internal organs, ruptured. Aft er a series of seizures and the loss of five pints of blood, the doctors rated the chances of Chris surviving at five per cent. He was kept alive only by medical intervention, during which time his platelet count dropped to just two, meaning a paper cut would kill him.

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