If you haven’t heard of her already, Tonia Couch is the new diving heart throb in town! The twenty-three year old synchronized diver has wowed sports critics and fashion lovers alike showing off her major board skills back at the Beijing Olympics, claiming the first women’s international diving medal for GB in February and giving a stellar performance at London 2012. With all those painfully early mornings and long days training you’d think she’d be ragged with exhaustion but all the while she’s been doing it with style; toting killer Union Jack nail art and tweeting ferociously about her celebratory shopping trips (to Topshop, of course!) Although her London 2012 performance didn’t end with a trophy she was graceful as ever and celebrated as we would with a much-deserved burger and chips. With the Olympics now finished, we thought we’d catch up with Tonia about what it’s really like to train for an event the whole world is watching and boy did we we have fun talking style icons, shoes and Channing Tatum too!
How important has fashion been for you growing up?
Really important. My mum is quite fashionable and I’ve always looked up to her. I’ve been to two Olympics now and you need to feel good outside of sports because I’m always in sporty clothes. When I get home I don’t want to be in tracksuit bottoms because I’m in them all day so I want to look nice and feel good. I always try not to leave anywhere without mascara on or brushing my hair. If I have to be in kit, then I have to be in kit, but if not I would never choose to be. I love picking things out of my wardrobe and putting them together.
What do you wear when you’re training?
Do you find it difficult to fit in time to shop?
I train in the morning, have a few hours break and then I train late afternoon so I do have time to go shopping. I train for 4 hours a day, we do gymnastics before we get into the pool as well. There’s a lot of behind the scenes, a lot of people think it’s just diving but there’s weights, conditioning, trampolining, somersaults, stretching. It’s a very sweaty sport!
How amazing was it performing at an Olympics in your home country?
The crowd was so loud! When you get onto the diving board you have to wait until it goes silent before you can move on, and I was waiting for a long time. It was amazing. The whole of England have just been so supportive.
How was the Olympic Village?
It’s an amazing place to be. There’s a games room, you meet a lot of people and the food area is fantastic. It’s mad!
Do you have a sporting idol?
There are so many new ones from England now. Years ago when I first started I didn’t really know any other sports people. But Laura Wilkinson the American diver was a lot older and always really good to me. She won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and she was so nice to me. I was so young and I didn’t really understand everything and worried about the competitions but she was always there to help me and push me through. I’ve always looked up to her.
When you made your dive everyone noticed your nail art – where did it come from?
My friend from home does it. It’s off now as it’s been three weeks but it’s still on my toes. We were chatting about what we should do for the Olympics and we thought, let’s do the flag! It’s perfect. And everyone’s been tweeting me about them. Everyone’s getting their nails done!
What was your run up to the Olympics like?
This year I’ve not been home for longer than two weeks at a time. I’ll come home for two weeks, away for a month, home for not even two weeks and away again. It’s a bit crazy but I’ve got a month off after this and I just can’t wait. I’m going on holidays in September with five other girls. We’re going to Greece – it’ll be nice. Have a few cocktails and not have to worry!
How did you celebrate once your work was done?
With food! There’s free McDonalds in the Olympics Village. I’m not normally a fan of McDonalds but I’ve had it five nights in a row. It’s there and it’s teasing everyone. Until you finish competing you’re not going to have it because you’re going to be sensible. I never have it when I’m at home but it’s there, it’s free and I just finished the biggest event of my life. So, let’s just eat as much as we want! My favourite foods are chocolate, Dominos pizza and Chinese.
When you’re not training, what do you like to do?
Hanging out with my friends really. I like to go shopping. I’m a shopaholic with my shoes and handbags. Having meals out or getting a take away with my friends. I’m not great with my own company so I’d much rather spend my time with other people.
Are there any trends that you’re obsessed with at the moment?
Not really a trend. But just shoes! My house is full of shoes and it kills me. I think, I’ve got enough shoes, why do I need more? I’ll wear flats during the day but I’m a real fan of heels. I have so many of them – I just bought an open-toe wedged pair from Topshop with studs at the bottom that are just amazing. And the same for handbags and going-out dresses.
How did you celebrate your 21st birthday?
Well, it had to be on hold for a while because of training. But when I finally had it, we had a booze cruise. A friend and I had a joint birthday and it was sea-themed. We were both mermaids in costumes which my mum made. I had a glittery green tail and a glittery bikini top and extensions in. It was crazy.
Do you have a fashion or style icon?
Cheryl Cole. I think everyone loves her. I love her music but also she’s such a gorgeous girl and her look is so great. In the new video she looks amazing. Although I never really look at what other people are wearing for inspiration, I just go and make it up myself. I think, I like that I can put it with this.
And what is it about Topshop you love?
I shop here all the time. In-between training I’m always here. It’s great being in London for the Olympics. I’ve not stopped shopping since I got here. I had a Personal Shopping appointment which was brilliant. It was such a shame I didn’t have the entire day to spend with them. I said what I was looking for and they basically went out and got it!
What celebrity do you have a crush on at the moment?
Channing Tatum. He’s my hero!
If you weren’t a diver what would you want to be?
A dancer in music videos. I used to dance for GCSE and I got an A. I absolutely loved it. It’s a shame I gave it up but I don’t think I’d have enough time to do both!
To stay in the loop with what Tonia’s up to, make sure you’re following her on Twitter.