PLYMOUTH divers Tonia Couch, Sarah Barrow and Tom Daley fly out to China today for the opening FINA/NVC World Series event.
Joining them on the plane to Beijing for the first international meet of the year is city coach Andy Banks.
The competition, which takes place in the 2008 Olympic Pool, gets underway on Friday and will last until Sunday. The British divers will then move on to Dubai for the second event in the series the following weekend.
Daley eased to victory at the British Championships in Plymouth last month, but he admits competing on the international stage is a whole different ball game.
“The World Series is where all the serious stuff starts happening,” said Daley. “Then the World Championships are the first chance to qualify for the Olympics, which is what we are aiming for.”
Daley is hoping he can perfect his new ‘firework’ dive during the World Series ready for the World Championships in Kazan later in the summer.
But the 20-year-old was quite happy with his opening performance of the year at the British Championships.
“It was a good way to start the season,” he said. “I hadn’t competed for about five months, so it was great to get back into it and get going again.”
Couch and Barrow were ranked third last year overall in the World Series synchro platform event and they hope to build on that this time around.
Their target is also the World Championships and securing that all-important spot at next year’s Olympics.
Barrow said: “The World Championships are the main goal as that’s qualification for the Olympics. We hope to qualify this year rather than wait to next.”
The pair will face tough competition in Beijing from China’s Ruolin Chen and Huixia Liu, Malaysia’s Mun Yee Leong and Pandelela Rinong, Mexico’s Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco, Australia’s Melissa Wu and Lara Tarvit and Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion.
The synchro final will take place on Friday but Couch and Barrow will also take part in the individual 10m event in China on Sunday. They are paired in the same semi-final.
Daley, who is only taking part in the individual platform event, will come up against home favourite and two-times World champion Qiu Bo and Olympic champion David Boudia.