London: British diver Tom Daley has been warned that his media appearances could sink his hopes of winning gold at his home London Olympics.
Daley became one of the country`s leading medal hopes after he won the 10-metre platform world title in Rome in 2009 at the age of 15, but he finished only fifth at last year`s championships in Shanghai.
British diving performance director Alexei Evangulov told reporters that Daley`s Chinese rivals were working and training harder without the distractions of regular media and sponsorship commitments.
"If I had power over this, I would restrict it," the Russian said of Daley`s media work. "Sometimes it hinders our preparations, but I can`t do anything about it.
"If you look at the Chinese, they work three times harder. That`s the only secret.
"If you compare them to Thomas, he has many commitments in his media activities. He`s very active, not like the Chinese. The Chinese have restricted their divers and I support them on this," added Evangulov.
China swept all 10 diving golds at last year`s world championships, the first time a country had done so since the United States won the four titles on offer in 1982.
Evangulov said Daley`s fifth place was an accurate reflection of his diver`s ranking and told Britons they were mistaken in thinking he was the best in the world rather than one of the best.
Daley is due to take part in a World Cup event in the Olympic Aquatics Centre next week in his first international competition since the championships.
The Briton, who has sponsorship deals with Adidas, Nestle and BMW-owned Mini and has talked of a future in television, played down his coach`s words and said his appearances were already limited.
"I don`t do any media now that affects my training," he said. "Leading into competition I am on complete media lockdown...so it is definitely very controlled now."