Jack Laugher knows the price of gold off by heart. He has got close to perfection than most - diving being an impossible, subjective pursuit of an ideal - and counted the cost of 22 major medals.
Laugher’s Team England stats stand up with the very best. Five wins from eight competitions, three golds from three in 2018, eight points shy of the same in 2014.
The sprightly and self-aware Yorkshireman does his business on the lower springboards not the tall tower, but is no stranger to a sinking feeling.
“Diving, you know, it’s my life really,” he said. “I’m so proud of every single one of my medals, even though every one has been different.
“But the embarrassment of defeat is huge. I put a lot of pressure on myself, everybody expects me to do well and when I don’t, it hurts.”
The lowest point was the 2019 World Championships when Laugher fell from first to third in the individual 3m competition, later describing himself as feeling “dead inside.”
It was a violent tailspin that involved more than the customary two and a half somersaults, though Laugher would also add synchro silver with Dan Goodfellow to his collection.
“It was such heartbreak, embarrassment, a feeling of failure,” he said. “It set me back a long way, but I ended up bouncing back.”
Laugher worked hard on himself and got his mojo back at the Tokyo Olympics that yielded a 3m individual bronze, cathartically completing the set of Games medals.
“It felt like I’d finally overcome those fears and those problems,” said Laugher, who won Britain’s first Olympic diving title with Chris Mears in 2016.
“I found my groove again. It might not have been the same result as Rio but it felt equally as important, it proved to myself that I could overcome these problems.
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons and I feel like a different man coming into this year. Having that break, a new partnership, I’ve had a lot of positive change in my life.”
There has been something about the spirit of the Commonwealth Games that has always connected with Laugher, having made his debut at Delhi 2010 as a 15-year-old.
“It’s an environment I really thrive in,” he said. “Everyone feels quite happy just to be there and I thrive when I’m in my happy place.
“I get bogged down when I take things too seriously, but when I’m feeling good, I compete my best and that’s why I do well at the Commonwealth Games.”
Laugher is heading to Birmingham in superb form, becoming the first British diver to win three medals at a single World Championships in Budapest.
The Harrogate native anchored British diving’s best-ever performance at the global gathering with 1m silver, 3m bronze and 3m synchro silver with Anthony Harding.
Harding is Laugher’s new partner after he parted company with Dan Goodfellow after Tokyo.
“Dan and I, we had a good ride and some good performances here and there,” he said.
“There were some issues and one of them being we both had different diving styles.
“We both were fairly uncompromising with each other because we wanted to do what felt good and focus on our individuals a bit more. Anthony was the natural successor.”
Manchester-born and Leeds-based, Harding is 22 and the early signs couldn’t be more positive on his link-up with Laugher.
They have returned to the same repertoire of dives that propelled the former to Olympic victory with Mears.
“Anthony and my diving styles are very similar,” said Laugher. “We like to try to depress the board as far as possible to jump as high as possible.
“We’re not trying to finish a dive as soon as possible, what we’re trying to do is to show the judges how high we can get.
“Our pacing is similar and Anthony is one of the few who can actually keep up with me.”
In Tom Daley’s absence, Laugher is the senior male diver on Team England.
When he looks into the eyes of his juniors, he will see the same hopes, fears and possibilities that he has plunged through for a decade and more.
“I’ve learned a lot from my experiences,” he said. “Hopefully I can pass them on to everyone else and try to make their careers a little less bumpy than mine.”