'I've come from deaths door to here'. These were the emotional words from Reading's Chris Mears after becoming the first Briton to claim a gold medal at the Olympics in diving.

Mears, from Burghfield, sensationally claimed the unlikeliest of wins when he and partner Jack Laugher, 23, claimed victory in the synchronised three metre springboard event in Rio.

The pair scored a total 454.32 to end Chinese hopes of a clean sweep in the diving, who have been utterly dominant in the last seven Olympic Games, topping every medal table.

“It was crazy, it was absolutely crazy,” Mears said afterwards, speaking to USA Today. “I mean, I've dreamt about this my entire life and to come here and actually do it just feels absolutely surreal, to be honest.”

And the 21-year-old admitted afterwards he thought he was the victim of an horrible prank when, after an agonising few minutes, he finally realised he was an Olympic champion.

He said: “When I saw the score come up and it obviously said we won, I was like, how is this possible? I looked at the scoreboard and saw the Chinese score had dropped.

“I did the maths in my head and was like, okay, we've won. It's something that I can't understand. I'm struggling to get to grips with it.”

And tributes have been flooding in for Mears who saved his bravest effort for the grandest stage of them all.

Watch: Chris prepares for the London 2012 games.

Friend Shakila Barabhuiya, who has known Chris for the best part of a decade, said: “I'm a little bit shocked to be honest. I was so emotional watching that final dive.

“I've known Chris since before he competed in London 2012. And when he finally won my phone was just streaming in with messages saying how insane it was that he won.

“To be able to watch someone on their journey for so long, through everything he's been through, is amazing. The Chinese always pull it out of the bag, they were the hot favourites.

“And then when they collapsed in tears in the pool, I was nearly in tears.”

Have you seen Chris training around the town?