BRITAIN'S Olympic diving hero Peter Waterfield plunged back into Waltham Forest last week, vowing to scale the heights of a sport which for one week gripped the nation during the summer.

Mr Waterfield, Walthamstow born and bred, was back in his home area talking to students at Rush Croft School, Chingford, about his experiences at this summer's Athens games and also to promote London's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

But before that, Mr Waterfield has one thing on his mind to turn the silver medal he wore around his neck during his visit into a gold one when he and synchronised diving partner Leon Taylor compete in the Beijing games in 2008.

For Mr Waterfield, the silver medal left him with mixed emotions. The pair were so close to gold but after coming fourth in Sydney four years ago silver was a fantastic achievement.

Speaking to the Guardian at the school in Rushcroft Road, Mr Waterfield said: "When we came fourth in Sydney, I think we would have rather come last.

"Coming fourth by three points is not a lot in our sport and if two judges gave us slightly different marks we would have been in a medal position, so it was very hard to take in.

"That was the driving force for the next four years and when we actually got the medal in Athens it was a dream come true. All that hard work had paid off.

"People ask me how I felt when I got the medal and I still can't explain it even to myself. It was a dream come true."

Twenty-three-year-old Mr Waterfield was born in the borough and went to McEntee School in Billet Road, Walthamstow. He was just nine when he took up diving.

He said: "I was doing a lot of other sports. I was doing judo and karate and also swimming at Waltham Forest Pool.

"I was swimming up and down and watching the divers at the other end and decided that it looked a bit more exciting, so I had a go at it and really enjoyed it and the rest is history."

The Olympic silver medallists started diving together in 1994.

Explaining how they work, he said: "Leon counts 1-2-3-go' and we do a similar arm swing and we jump off at the same time.

"But if one of us is out of time that's it, you can't catch up. Leon and I have got similar techniques though, so it works really well.

"In Beijing I want a gold medal in the synchronised diving and I want a medal in the individual as well."

Mr Waterfield enjoyed talking to Rush Croft students and encouraged them to take up sport and achieve their ambitions.

The family man, who now lives in Southampton with girlfriend Tania and son Lewis, said of Waltham Forest: "It's good to be back. I do come back quite a bit to see my family.

"I really loved going to McEntee and had some great times there.

"I hope to get back there soon as well to share my memories with them."