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Tucks and Turns - a World Junior Diving Championships review

7 September, 2010
Junior Development Manager Julian Bellan blogs from the World Junior Diving Championships in Tuscon, Arizona.

The 18th Junior World Diving Championships were possibly the highest calibre of diving yet witnessed at a junior competition. With nearly 200 competitors the events were not only very large but brimming with talent.

Having enjoyed success at the Junior European Championships in Helsinki back in July, the focus for the British team, powered by British Gas, was moving to the next level of diving with USA, China, Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan as well as emerging countries such as Colombia and Japan.

The punishing heat nearing 40 degrees by midday proved to be the final opponent in the battle for medal success and with limited shade it was a contest of tactics and discipline to succeed.

Our double European junior champion Jack Laugher (pictured above with Tom Daley and diving legend Greg Louganis) continued his recent form, winning the 1m and 3m titles to become our first ever springboard and double world champion.

Jack dominated the events, only missing one dive in his two individual contests and performing dives that would equal seasoned competitors. Jack’s performances demonstrated that British Diving now has the understanding to take on the world in springboard diving – traditionally our weaker events.

The girls' 14-15 competitions probably saw the highest standard of female diving with USA’s Kassidy Cook winning both the 1m and 3m springboard – she is probably the most exciting junior talent in world diving. Charismatic, confident and gracious, she is the complete package.But GB has its girls who, although a year younger, gave her a run for her money.

Alicia Blagg was just 1.6 points outside the medals in fourth on the 1m springboard behind Cook and two Chinese divers, beating the current European junior champion, Russia’s Evgenia Selezneva in the process. Blagg also regrouped after a slow start to her 3m campaign to rise from 12th place in the prelims to seventh place in the final, some way off the dominant Cook but none the less in the hunt for bronze.

Grace Reid shone as she had done a few weeks earlier at the European Senior Championships in Budapest. Grace continued to demonstrate a fantastic competitive composure but will need to increase her difficulty in the coming season in readiness for 2011 and beyond.

Meanwhile, Hannah Starling narrowly missed out on a place in the final of the 1m springboard. With a good set of required dives Hannah looked destined for a final spot but unfortunately overcooked her front 2 1/2 somersaults piked for 3.5’s missing out on a final place by just five points.

She also teamed up with Grace in the 3m synchro. Again, the girls were challenging for a medal place having become European junior bronze medallists in July, but a missed fourth round dive dropped them out of contention.

Thomas Daley was unable to compete in his favoured platform event – an event we would expect him to challenge for gold – but his tricep injury is improving by the day and he was able to compete in the 3m springboard, finishing a fine sixth place. He will now resume preparatory training in readiness for the Commonwealth Games.

Oliver Dingley missed out on the 3m but rose to the challenge to make the final of the 16-18 1m springboard where he eventually finished 11th

The surprise package of the championship for me was Josh Dowd. The Teesside boy made two finals finishing a superb sixth in the 14-15 3m where he was the second-placed European diver behind Jack Laugher.

Megan Sylvester – fresh from the Europeans in Budapest and Youth Olympics in Singapore – showed considerable improvement and grew in confidence and stature in her first individual outing for some two years. Her eighth place in the platform 16-18 girls was a welcome shot in the arm for her development.

There were obvious disappointments with European junior champion Rosie Medlock and Max Brick failing to final on the platform but they’ll go back and reflect on what should have been for next time out. 

Jess Williams from London looked good for a final place in the 16-18 3m springboard, only to fluff her final and easiest dive and miss out on a place in the top 12. Both Rosie and Jess are young enough to enjoy the opportunity to improve in the 2012 Junior Worlds.

Julian Bellan, Junior Development Manager for Diving

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