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Starling holds nerve to make first World final

26 July 2013

British teenager Hannah Starling booked a spot in her first World Championship final on day seven of the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona.

Having qualified comfortably in fourth from the prelim, the 18-year old held her nerve in a tense semi-final to secure the final qualification spot in 12th on 297.35.

After a slow start, the City of Leeds diver moved up to 11th in the third of five rounds and needed 54.95 from her last effort to qualify ahead of Germany’s Tina Punzel (290.75).

Starling comfortably surpassed that tally, scoring the joint highest score of her list with 61.5 to book her maiden World final berth.

China’s He Zi (370.00) led qualifiers ahead of China’s Wang Han (362.40) and Canada’s Jennifer Abel (344.10) while Starling’s training parter at Leeds, Alicia Blagg was 18th (253.80).

"To finally not be 13th or 19th or fourth! It feels so great," - Hannah StarlingAnd having finished 13th to narrowly miss out on last year’s Olympic final, Starling admitted she was relieved to have made the cut 12 months on.

“It makes me so happy,” said Starling. “To finally not be 13th or 19th or fourth! It feels so great!

“I was happy to get to the semi-final but I knew I did that last year as well. So I just went out there and tried to do my best and do everything that Edwin [Jongejans, coach] tells me to do.

“I didn’t think I’d made the final though. I thought I’d be about 14th because I didn’t have my best competition out there.”

European Junior champion Blagg had also qualified strongly in Barcelona, finishing eighth from the morning prelims on 297.75.

And while the 16-year old - who also finished eighth at the senior Europeans and sixth with Rebecca Gallantree in the 3m Synchro in Barcelona - conceded she could have no complaints over her season, she admitted she would have preferred to end her second World Championships on a high note.

“I’m not too pleased with that because I know I can do a lot better,” said Blagg.

“It was my first individual competition at a World Championships so I can’t be too disappointed.

“I’ve done all three events here with the 3m Synchro and 1m individual as well which has been quite hard and I’m a bit tired now.

“It’s been a great season. I’ve won medals with Becky and I won the two golds at junior Europeans. I’m just a bit gutted I’ve finished my season on a bit of a downer because I know I can do a lot better.”

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