SEVEN years ago, Reading’s Chris Mears was given just a five per cent chance of survival after contracting the life-threatening Epstein Barr virus.

This morning, the 23-year-old from Reading is waking up as Britain’s newest Olympic champion after a sensational performance in the diving competition with partner Jack Laugher.

Diving pair Mears and Laugher, members of Leeds Dive Club, produced a sparkling display to secure victory in the men's synchronised 3 metre springboard on day five in Rio.

It marked Great Britain’s most successful day at the 2016 Rio Games as they surged up the medals table with a flurry of podium places.

Kayaker Joe Clarke claimed Team GB’s third gold medal, and there were bronze medals for gymnast Max Whitlock, shooter Steven Scott, Tour de France cycling champion Chris Froome, and judo's Sally Conway.

For Reading’s Chris Mears, though, winning gold will be a life-changing experience.

Back in 2009, he collapsed with a ruptured spleen, losing five pints of blood and was on life support, before leaving hospital a month later after having his spleen removed.

But the Berkshire diver made a full recovery and returned to the pool in 2010, going on to finish fourth in the synchro at the Commonwealth Games.

He told the BBC: "After going through all that horrible experience, just making the 2012 Olympics in London was enough for me. That was great.

"But we were in a different position at this Games. We knew we could get medals here, we kind of thought we could get gold, but to actually get it is just incredible."

Mears, 23, from Reading, and Laugher, 21, from Harrogate, previously won World Championships bronze in 2015, Commonwealth gold in 2014 and European gold in May.

The pair topped the charts with a score of 454.32 from their six dives.  The United States took second place while China were third - the first time they have not won gold in the diving events at this Olympics.

Mears and Laugher led the way from the end of round three and held their composure magnificently to secure gold.

Mears added: "We've been looking pretty damn good in training. As you can see the conditions are a big thing here.

"One minute you can be diving in sunshine, then it's cloudy, then it's raining and it's really windy. So there are a lot of factors that can throw people off.

"But we just stayed in our zone. We didn't know how many points we needed because we weren't concentrating on that.

"All I concentrated on was landing on my head on my dive and I did that. And so did Jack so we came out on top."

Laugher said: "So we took on the English weather with the wind and the rain and the cloudiness but we embraced it.

"We did it well today although it can be better. But I've got a gold medal so I don't care.

"The dream's happened and it's paid off and we're ecstatic with how we've done."