Five medals in five days as British divers start strong at the European GamesJune 27, 2023
Great Britain’s divers top the diving medal table with just two days to go of diving action at the European Games in Poland.
Team GB’s divers have won five medals in the opening five days with three golds, one silver and one bronze at the Rzeszów Diving Arena.
Arguably, the highlight of the week so far was Ross Haslam’s emotional victory in the Men’s 1m Springboard.
Haslam has overcome a series of injury setbacks in recent years and the delighted City of Sheffield diver reflected on his journey from the side-lines to European glory.
He said: “I can’t quite believe it. There’s been a long time I probably thought I wouldn’t get back onto an international team, so the fact I was here was a little surprising, but it was step one.
“When I started diving again after my injuries and coming back, I learned to try to enjoy it again and not put too much pressure on myself.
“I’d like to think this is the little stepping stone I need to keep going now.”
Haslam dived himself into medal contention in round three with an excellent Forward 2 ½ Somersaults 1 Twist Pike that scored 72.00 points with best dive of the round.
That moved him into third before his fourth round dive pushed him into top spot. He then saved his best dive for last as his Inward 2 ½ Somersaults Pike was awarded 78.20 points to ensure he walked away with the crown.
Scotland’s James Heatly also represented Team GB event and finished 12th with a total score of 323.30.
Haslam and Heatly will now pair up for Team GB pair in Wednesday’s Men’s 3m Synchro final.
Double synchro success
There was more gold for Team GB in the synchronised events with Great Britain’s Amy Rollinson and Desharne Bent-Ashmeil claiming their first major honour as a pair in the Women’s 3m Synchronised Springboard.
The young duo showed great composure after an error in their opening dive which left them at the bottom of the standings.
However, they kept their focus and recorded the highest scoring dive in each of the final three rounds to fire their way up the leaderboard.
All three of those dives scored more than 65 points as they showed their class to secure their first senior international titles.
And after a number of near misses, the pair were proud to get the result they wanted in Poland.
“It feels amazing.” Rollinson said.
“It feels so nice after last year’s narrow miss (fourth) just to get back up there and actually win this year.
“Last year was getting used to everything and we want to keep going. We’ve both had different setbacks this year so to get this after all of those is amazing.”
Bent-Ashmeil added: “I’m so proud; I really, really wanted this. I am just really happy that we were able to pull through and take back what we wanted.”
There was also a bronze for Ben Cutmore and Matthew Dixon in the Men’s 10m Synchronised Platform.
In the pair’s first competition as a partnership they were delighted to break onto the podium after only training together in the build-up to the competition.
Reacting to their result Dixon said: “It means loads, it’s our first competition together – we haven’t done much training and for our first competition to get a bronze medal is great.
“We both know we can do the individual dives, so as long as we communicated well to take off at the same time that would set the foundation [for a good performance].”
Cutmore commented on the honour of being paired up with his more experienced teammate.
“To get put together with Dixon for the synchro is an achievement for me because I looked up to this kid when I was ten years old, so to be diving with him now is quite exciting.”
The duo quickly found their feet as a pairing as they finished ahead of a number of experienced competitors.
Their best dive was in round three with an Inward 3 ½ Somersaults, ½ Twists Free that scored 77.76 points from the judges.
They completed their set with a total of 372.69 to round out the podium placed behind Italy (388.83) and Ukraine (398.70).
Cheng’s golden glory
The British medal count began on Friday however with Eden Cheng claiming gold in the Women’s 10m Platform final.
In an open final, four divers were within four points of the lead as they entered the final round with Cheng’s consistency keeping her within the medal hunt.
However, a sublime Back 2 1/2 Somersaults 1 1/2 Twists Pike from Cheng earnt her 73.60 points to see her shoot from fourth to first to come away with the title.
She finished with 331.60, just 0.65 ahead of Germany’s Christina Wassen.
The victory didn’t just give her the title but also sees Team GB receive an unnamed quote place in the event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“I’m very happy, slightly relieved, a bit emotional – I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now!” Said Cheng.
“I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be selected for this team and to be in the competition amongst friends and fierce competitors. So yeah it’s boosting my confidence and showing me that my resilience is still at a very high level through the rollercoaster of competition.”
Teammate Robyn Birch was fifth overall, after a she ended her competition with her best two dives of the event.
Meanwhile the Scottish pair of Heatly and Grace Reid continued their impressive partnership in the Mixed 3m Synchronised Platform.
They took home the silver medal at the Games to add to their European, world and Commonwealth medals from 2022.
After being pushed out of the medal places ahead of their final dive, Heatly and Reid responded with a stunning Inward 2 1/2 Somersaults Pike (405B) for 65.70 points to propel themselves back onto the the podium.
They ended with a total of 283.89 which was less than eight points off Italy’s Chiara Pellacani and Matteo Santoro who won the gold.
Elsewhere, Great Britain’s divers have put in a number of performances even when they missed out on the podium places.
Team GB begun their competition on Thursday with the Mixed Team event.
Bent-Ashmeil, Cutmore, Cheng and Robbie Lee teamed up to score 231.95 from their six dives which saw them finish seventh in the standings.
On Saturday, Masie Bond and Noah Penman made their senior international debut in Poland.
The duo finished fifth in the Mixed Platform final after scoring 265.08 across five rounds to finish just 18 points short of a medal place.
Haslam almost made his gold his second appearance on the podium at the Games so far.
He also placed fourth in the Men’s 3m Springboard final after topping the preliminaries.
Haslam recorded the highest scoring dive in round four with his Forward 4 ½ Somersaults receiving 79.80 points from the judges.
It helped him on his way to a strong total of 403.35, which was just ahead of his teammate Dixon – who scored 401.05 to finish sixth.
Bent-Ashmeil and Reid also took to the boards in the Women’s 3m Springboard. Both British divers finished just short of the medal places.
Reid was fifth with 298.55 and Bent-Ashmeil sixth after scoring 293.10.
Images – British Swimming