A FORMER Brightlingsea schoolboy is taking the plunge and hoping to create waves at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Colchester-born Dariush Lotfi has flown to the Japanese city and competing at the diving World Cup.

The 20-year-old knows that if he makes a splash in the men's 10m platform category, it could be enough to secure a dream ticket to the delayed 2020 Games.

The preliminary round was due to take place at 4.30am this morning, with the semi-finals following at 10.45am.

He needs to finish in the top 18 to definitely qualify, with the top 24 likely to qualify. The finals, if he gets through, will be later in the week.

Proud mum Tracey Montague, who still lives in Brightlingsea, said: "It's been, and continues to be, a long, hard road for Dar.

"However, he's extremely committed and passionate about his diving - as he had to be when leaving his family, friends and school behind to move to Austria and further his diving career when he was 15.

"He's had the full support of his immediate and extended family, as well as brilliant help and support from his coaches, friends and what have become his second family in Graz, Austria.

"We've been unable to visit him or go to the World Cup.

Family affair - Dariush Lotfi and sister Sara, who still lives in Brightlingsea

Family affair - Dariush Lotfi and sister Sara, who still lives in Brightlingsea

"It's sad that there are no non-Japanese spectators allowed, due to Covid.

"However, we'll all be watching online and cheering from our respective sofas.

"We'll be keeping everything crossed and will make the most of being able to see him on screen."

Dariush, who is also competing in the European Championships, in May, was born in Colchester and lived in Brightlingsea.

He went to Millfields Primary School and then the Colne Community School and College.

He left home to develop his diving potential, moving to Graz when he was 15 and starting school at the German-speaking National Sports Academy.

He lived at a nearby boarding school and learned to speak German, having had intensive classes for the first few months.

"With the help and support of many wonderful people in Graz, he's thrived," added Mrs Montague.

"He applied for citizenship and is now among the top divers in Austria, having travelled and competed in many countries across Europe.

"On top of his diving activities, he's also in the middle of his Matura - the equivalent of A levels.

"So he's very busy indeed but still very committed and dedicated to his diving."