Steve Gladding can’t wait to be part of a home Olympics.
The Portsmouth-born coach is a key part of the backroom staff for Team GB’s diving set-up at London 2012.
The action in the Aquatics Centre gets under way tomorrow and Gladding is itching to get going.
This will be the second Olympics for the highly-regarded coach.
But having been only a part of the support staff in Beijing four years ago, Gladding will get to coach this time around.
And with the greatest show on earth in his home country, he feels the Olympic experience so far could not have been any more special.
Gladding said: ‘It’s absolutely amazing. The builders and organisers, they’ve done a wonderful job. The food is excellent, the accomodation is brilliant and the facilities are just superb.
‘Our accommodation is right next to what they call the casual dining area. It’s an outdoor eating area with barbecues and British market stalls. It’s just fantastic.’
Another aspect of the Olympic Village Gladding is enjoying is the Olympians themselves, something that really hit home with a chance encounter at dinner.
‘Knowing you’re living in a place with the best in the world really is an eye-opener,’ he said.
‘You could be living next to world-class athletes, people who are supremely skilled. It’s crazy.
‘Just the other day I sat down to dinner next to Ryan Giggs. Of course, I said “hello”. He seemed like a nice guy.’
Based in Sheffield, Gladding is currently coaching Nick Robinson-Baker, who is diving in his second Olympics in the three-metre synchronised springboard, and his wife, Monique Gladding, who is making her debut in the 10m platform.
Both are aiming to do well under Gladding but as he acknowledges, they face tough competition.
‘Both Nick and Monique have prepared extremely well at the camp in Southend but it’s a very competitive playing field,’ said Gladding.
‘These divers are the best in the world and any one of them can take gold on their day. We don’t really have any rivals because the whole field, GB included, is just full of talented people.’
Gladding is currently spending the majority of his time at the newly-built Aquatic Centre in the Olympic Park, helping Robinson-Baker and his wife fine-tune their performances in time for their events on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Gladding is utterly bowled over by the place and says that his enthusiasm is shared by other coaches.
He added: ‘We’ve been fortunate enough to use the Aquatics Centre for the World Cup but it still makes an impact even now.
‘The facilities are excellent. Other coaches have been saying that these are truly the best and I agree with them.’
On the subject of future Olympics, Gladding added: ‘Of course I’d love to go to another Olympics but this one will be hard to beat.
‘After all, it’s basically in our back garden.’
n Don’t miss The News’ coverage throughout the Olympics from our man David Brawn in London and Phil Riley in Weymouth.