CHRIS MEARS: Olympic gold is only just sinking in with LA escape following the post-Rio whirlwind

Only now can I say that becoming the first to win an Olympic diving gold medal for Team GB has sunk in.

I’d done so many interviews that I hadn’t had a chance to think about what it really meant. After getting back from Rio, I did press and media for 48 hours then flew straight out to LA.

While I’ve been out here I’ve had loads of time and, although it may sound cliched, I feel complete in a way. I’m carrying no doubts about anything — I feel absolutely free.

Chris Mears and Jack Laugher won gold in the diving synchronised 3m springboard

Chris Mears and Jack Laugher won gold in the diving synchronised 3m springboard

After a whirlwind of celebrations and media duties the achievement is just sinking for Mears

The 23-year-old had to wait for Laugher to finish his individual event before he could celebrate

The 23-year-old had to wait for Laugher to finish his individual event before he could celebrate

I still feel my normal self but I’m constantly in a good mood because no-one can take away what I’ve done. It’s with me for life now. In terms of sport it’s the biggest thing you can do, so it really genuinely feels amazing.

I’m not sure where I’ll put the gold medal. At the moment I’m carrying it around everywhere because I’m scared it will get stolen! I might get it framed, but it will have to be a frame where I can get it out easily because I’m not sure how many times I’ll need to get it out and have a feel of it when I’m feeling sad!

I’m in LA until mid-September and while I’m here I’m holidaying, having meetings, doing a bit of music here and there, doing music production — just stuff that I’ve been sacrificing to get that result.

I don’t want to switch off. I learned a lot from London four years ago. I finished fifth and ninth aged 18 and was absolutely buzzing, but then I spent a week and a half at home with nothing to do.

The pair are the first British athletes to top the podium in any diving event at the Olympics 

The pair are the first British athletes to top the podium in any diving event at the Olympics 

All my friends were away and I started getting pretty badly deflated.

I thought, ‘If I do another Olympics then I want to have stuff afterwards that I can get stuck in to.’ I didn’t want to be in the situation where I’d go from winning an Olympic gold medal to sitting at home with nothing to do other than make a cup of tea!

It’s been so crazy at home. When I was in London I was stopped in the street everywhere, people congratulating me and getting photos. It was so nice because it’s been a life’s work and now everyone is sharing that passion with me and congratulating me on our achievement.

It’s different to just having a social media following and people asking for a photo because you’ve got Instagram followers!

I waited for five days to celebrate so I could let Jack compete and make sure he got his result. He did so well to add a silver to our gold. Our celebrations were fairly low-key in the end — we wanted to be safe because there were a lot of mentions about security, getting in taxis and what not.

Mears is going to take a break from the pool and is unsure if he'll compete at Tokyo 2020

Mears is going to take a break from the pool and is unsure if he’ll compete at Tokyo 2020

We ended up going to a hotel with all of our coaches. The first night we celebrated with them because we owe them so much, then the other nights were just going out and celebrating with the other sports.

The divers and the gymnasts got pretty close while we were away and it was a really nice bond to make. I know Max Whitlock a little from doing Road to Rio and it was nice to meet the other guys. We celebrated with them and went out a few times. Both sports have come a long way at these Games and that was something we both recognised. The flight back from Rio with Team GB was insane! Everyone was bonding, drinking champagne and joking around.

I’m coming back for training on November 1 but I’m not sure when I’m getting back in the pool. I just want to give everyone loads of space. We’ve spent the last four years working towards this goal and I want to give my support team and coaches time to spend with their families. They have made so many sacrifices for us.

It’s hard to say with Tokyo in 2020 but I’m definitely going to go on until at least the Commonwealth Games in two years’ time. When I get to that point I’ll evaluate where I’m at physically and mentally. It depends if I’m in a good shape and my heart is still in diving — although I can’t see why it wouldn’t be. 

Harry Brown, Sally Brown, Mears,  Adam Gemili, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Rebecca James,  Max Whitlock have been taking part in Sportsmail's Road to Rio series

Harry Brown, Sally Brown, Mears, Adam Gemili, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Rebecca James, Max Whitlock have been taking part in Sportsmail’s Road to Rio series

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