Five years ago, British diver Chris Mears had a five percent chance of living after contracting glandular fever while competing at the Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
After defying the odds and returning to the sport, the now-21-year-old has numerous titles to his name, as well as his first Commonwealth gold medal, which he scooped alongside teammate Jack Laugher in the synchronised 3m springboard final in Edinburgh this summer.
Following his stint at the European Championships in Berlin, where he failed to reach the podium, the Brit is now focusing on his DJ career by performing numerous gigs in Mexico before preparing for the new diving campaign.
Before jetting out of the country, Mears had a chat with Sports Mole to reflect on his season, his partnership with Laugher and plans to release his own music.
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Looking back at the Commonwealth Games, you won gold in the synchronised final, but you failed to medal in the 1m springboard. How would you assess your campaign in Glasgow?
"Very successful! I set my eyes on the synchro event and we went in there to win it and that's what we ended up doing, which was fantastic to have done that. There was quite a lot of pressure on us to do it as well and to deliver under the pressure. Also, I think the Commonwealths, personally for me, it was one of my goals in life and my career to get a gold at Commonwealth and to have done it at this age is great and hopefully there's more in me!
"I don't really compete 1m, my event is the 3m individual, but I wasn't selected for that at Commonwealths, which is a shame, but I still tried as hard as I could on the 1m and I only missed out on third. Obviously, I was a bit gutted, but it drove me to work harder for the synchro, which paid off."
You were based in Edinburgh for the Games, so you didn't have the multi-sport environment first hand, but is that something you enjoy?
"Yeah, I love multi-sport events. During the Olympics it was really cool to mingle with other athletes from Team GB and at the Commonwealths it's Team England. [Swimmer] Liam Tancock came down to watch my event, which was really cool, because I made friends with him at the Olympics. It's brilliant to also be watching on TV and be driven by the other people that get success, so you can try and work harder for your event. It's like a team effort."
After the Commonwealths, you had the European Championships in Berlin. How do you feel about your performances there?
"Berlin was alright, but it was difficult to get past the whole Commonwealth thing and I wasn't in the best shape for that because you only have six days' training before it and I only attended four of the days because of illness and injury and stuff like that. So, it was kind of a tough one, but it was good for us to finish off the year with what we'd planned to do, which was to go into Europeans. The event didn't mean that much to us in terms of getting our funding etc. The targets were quite loose, but it was an opportunity for us to go in there and try to make an impact. Four of the six rounds we did, it was just two drop dives and that's just the sport at the end of the day, that's just what happens in diving. Me and Jack went out and we had a good laugh. We definitely enjoyed it, so it was worthwhile."
You and Jack only started synchronised this year and you've already won titles together. What do you think it is about your partnership that works?
"Me and Jack are very good friends - we're very close, which always helps. You've got to be confident when you're stood on the board next to someone else and I've got sole confidence in him because I know how talented he is and I'm sure that he'd say the same for me. I think when you're stood on the board next to your partner you've got to know that they're going to do a good dive to make you do a good dive. Also, I live in Leeds and train with him now and we train full-time together, so the dedication is very much for the synchro for us, which means that generally everything that we do in the synchro is in synchro and in time, which always helps."
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In terms of your individual diving, what areas are you planning to work on?
"It's been difficult this year because I was injured going through into the season. I had no time to work on skills, to bring in higher dives or anything like that. I've just been working on my lift that I've had since 2013 and I've done okay with it considering the hard times that I've been through with my ankles and my injury."
What are your main focuses for next season?
"Next year, I'll focus on working hard in the pre-season in about two weeks' time and work on doing some new lead-ups and trying to get some new dives in there to try to get higher up in the rankings, but we'll just have to wait and see with that one."
Does the Rio Olympics enter your mind yet, despite the fact that it's still two years away?
"I'm not the sort of person that watches forward that much, I just work as hard as I can all the time, every day, day in and day out. Then eventually it's like, 'oh yeah, World Cup in two weeks' and then you're like, 'right, okay'. Then you work towards that and then you come down, and then it's like, 'okay, we've got Commonwealths or whatever'. I work like that a little bit, I don't tend to look forward too much. We do sit down and plan stuff but I think it just works better for me if I just work short-term."
Of course, Tom Daley's become a prominent figure in the public eye over the last few years. Do you think that's helped increase interest in diving?
"Yeah, 100%. Tom's brought a lot of media to the sport - a lot of interest to the sport and I think interest in us guys as well and what we do. Tom's a great guy and it's really good for the sport. It's really good that we can establish a fanbase and they get really interested in it. I'm sure some of them that I engage on Twitter with like diving and really enjoy the sport, and if not participate, watching it, so that's really cool."
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Away from diving, you DJ - is that something you hope to keep making a career out of in the future?
"Yeah, definitely. I'm on my way to Mexico to do a series of gigs out there all around Mexico - I'm really excited for that. I'm working really hard on my own material as well, so hopefully I can get that out to people as soon as possible."
Can you give us any more details about your own music?
"Yeah, I've got a single coming out which should be in early October. It's coming out in Mexico and it might be released in other countries after that."
What got you interested in DJ-ing in the first place?
"I had a serious illness when I was 16, 17 and I got a Mac [computer] and then started messing around on music-making software. My cousin is quite renowned in the writing and producing world so he showed me the ropes and then I took my own direction with it, and here I am! I really enjoy the music that I play and the music that I make, and that's the main thing. It was for fun and then I started getting quite good, so I got picked up."