Double diving gold headlines hectic weekend for British athletes

Olympic medallists Jack Laugher and Tom Daley led a peerless synchro team performance at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo on a fruitful weekend for British athletes worldwide.

Final Olympic quota places were on offer at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, which will stage events at the Games, in the first global diving competition for more than a year.

Laugher and Dan Goodfellow marked their return with a dominant 3m springboard gold.

The world silver medallists nailed a fiendishly difficult Forward 2½ Somersaults 3 Twists Pike, one of the toughest in the sport, in a perfect Olympic rehearsal.

“Being able to dive in the Olympic pool for Tokyo 2020, it meant a lot to us to go out there and do a good performance,” said Laugher

“There was a load of nerves – we haven’t competed together for over a year, so for us it was kind of scary, but like I said I’m really happy we went out and got a PB with our new dive list.

“Our final dive (the 5156) is new, in the sense that it’s a different order in our list, and that’s hopefully the list we’ll be using in Tokyo.

“We’re just really happy with the performance and can’t believe we got the gold medal.”

Daley and partner Matty Lee matched their team-mates and led the world field in all but one round across qualifying and final in the 10m platform.

Daley and Lee finished 48 points clear of Mexico’s Randal Willars Valdez and Ivan Garcia Navarro in a score that would have won silver at the 2019 World Championships.

It was Daley’s 33rd career gold medal and his first at the World Cup, having won bronze in Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016 in the lead-up to his first and third Games.

Team GB will be represented in every diving discipline for the fourth successive Games as quota places were wrapped up in women’s 3m springboard and 10m platform.

Lois Toulson and Eden Cheng took overall silver behind Canada to secure an Olympic place for their nation, producing the best dive in the field in the third round having sat seventh.

Having finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships, sixth was enough for Grace Reid and Kat Torrance to do the same in the 3m springboard.

"Getting that Olympic spot is all that we've been thinking about and training so incredibly hard, so despite everything, to get that spot was amazing," said Reid.

Elsewhere, Britain’s relay runners showcased an exciting blend of fresh blood and experienced heads at the World Relays in Silesia, Poland.

Olympic places were on offer for other nations, but Britain already qualified spots in the five track relay events through performances in Doha at the 2019 World Championships.

The women’s 4x400m team took an excellent third place, holding off a fancied Netherlands squad who won gold at March’s European Indoor Championships.

Rio bronze medallist Emily Diamond ran 52.28 on the third leg and passed the baton to primary school teacher Jessie Knight, running the anchor leg on her outdoor relay debut.

Diamond said: “Women’s 400m running in Britain at the moment is one of the strongest it has been in a long time.

“It’s so competitive and that bodes well for the Olympics.

“It is exciting to see what type of team we can get out there and what the team can bring home - hopefully another medal.”

There was a fifth-placed finish for the mixed 4x400m relay squad, an event which will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

In neighbouring Ukraine, Marcus Ellis, Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch brought home silver medals from the European Badminton Championships in Kiev.

On the back of a semi-final showing at the YONEX All England, mixed doubles top seeds Ellis and Smith were outlasted by Russia’s Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova.

They lost out 11-21 21-16 21-15 in a bruising 65-minute contest, but the world No.8 duo still upgraded the bronze they won at the last Europeans in 2018.

Smith and women’s doubles partner Birch were then on the front foot for the majority of their clash with Bulgarian sisters Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva but fell 21-14 21-19.

Elsewhere, Eve Muirhead and team are at a crucial moment in their bid to seal a top six spot and Olympic qualification at the World Women’s Curling Championship in Calgary.

Having won their first four contests, the Scottish rink slipped to 7-4 and 8-4 defeats to Olympic finalists South Korea and Sweden.

They currently sit fifth and a clash with Czech Republic awaits.

Sportsbeat 2021