3rd May 2015
They came in their hundreds to support Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist, Tom Daley, and he didn’t disappoint taking gold in the men’s 10m Platform on the final day of the FINA/NVC World Diving Series in London in front of a packed home crowd.
In a commanding display Daley led from start to finish ending his six dive routine with 554.05 points for a comfortable 35.30 point victory over China’s Yang Jian, winner of the 2014 World Series in London, who took silver with 518.75 points.
The usually unflappable Qiu Bo, silver medallist, ahead of Daley at the 2012 Games, and 2013 World Champion, seemed to let the pressure get to him, finishing a further 12.15 points adrift with 506.60 for bronze.
Daley, who was watched by friends and family, is a rejuvenated athlete following a move from his former base in Plymouth to the Olympic pool in London where the 2015 World Series took place.
As well as a new coach Daley has replaced the back twisting dive which proved unreliable with a forward 3 1/2 somersaults with one twist. Using it in the second round, Daley scored a massive 99 points, his highest ever for a twisting dive in competition.
‘I’ve finally beaten both the Chinese at the same event,’ Daley said. ‘I know I can do it every day. I have to get it into my head I can do it,’ he added.
Daley also feels there is more to come ahead of this summer’s World Championships. ‘There are still lots of things I can improve on,’ he said. ‘I still have another 50 or 60 points in the tank’.
If the men’s event went to script - at least as far as the home crowd were concerned - the women’s didn’t as China’s Liu Huixia slipped up with her fourth round dive and Canada’s Roseline Filion, who dived consistently throughout, moved ahead to take her first ever gold medal in a World Series.
‘The Chinese are great athletes,’ Filion said afterwards. ‘I admire them but it’s really special to win,’ she said.
‘I’ve been working hard and I’m really confident going forward to the World Championships,’ she added.
Roseline finished with 379.15 points with Liu just 0.45 of a point behind with 378.70 after and Britain’s Tonia Couch taking bronze with 357.80 points.
It was Couch’s third consecutive individual bronze in this Series.
Earlier another Chinese diver, Chen Ruolin, caused the shock of the day failing to qualify for the final of the 10m Platform.
Chen, 22, the 2012 and 2008 Olympic champion in both 10m Platform and 10m Platform Synchro couldn’t recover from a below par penultimate dive, a back 3 1/2 somersaults tucked which scored 62.70 points. Chen ended up with 352.10 points, missing qualification by 0.95 of a point.
Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito, winner of the 10m Platform at the Kazan World Diving Series a week earlier, also crashed out of the competition.
‘The semi-final was hard,’ Benfeito said. ‘It was basically a final. They (the other divers) were better than me today,’ she said. ‘I made a lot of mistakes’.
Benfeito, who is looking forward to the World Diving Series moving on to Windsor, in her native country, said she would learn from the experience.
‘My coach told me to be aggressive on my take offs and I was,’ she said. ‘It didn’t pay off but you can’t always be perfect. There are still two more rounds in the World Series,’ she said.
‘I’d rather it happened here than at the World Championships,’ she added.
In a thrilling final event of the weekend - the Mixed 10m Synchro Platform which has never been seen before in the UK - youngsters Lian Junjie, 15, and Si Yajie, 16, took gold by more than nine points but still felt they could have done better.
‘I didn’t feel I dived as well as normal,’ Lian said. ‘We weren’t as synchronised as usual,’ he added.
But the biggest cheer was for Matthew Lee and Georgia Ward of Britain diving in their first World Series event who took a thoroughly deserved silver medal.
It meant a medal of every colour - gold, silver and bronze - for the host nation in the final session.
Bronze went to the Russian pair of Nikita Shleikher and Yulla Timoshinina
China won seven of the 10 titles contested at the FINA/NVC Diving World Series in London.
There are two legs left of the World Diving Series; Windsor, Canada on May 22-24 and Merida, Mexico on May 29-31.
The 16th FINA World Championships take place from July 24 - August 9 2015 in Kazan, Russia.