Golden day of diving for Russia
EDINBURGH - Russia's Evgenii KUZNETSOV and Ilia ZAKHAROV snatched the men's 3m synchronised springboard gold medal from Britain's Jack LAUGHER and Chris MEARS in an exciting final as the diving competition continued on Friday at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.
In the day's other action, Mariia POLIAKOVA (RUS) won her first European championship gold medal, in the women's 1m springboard. The results saw Russia overtake Great Britain in the diving medal standings by virtue of one bronze medal - the Russians boasting three golds, three silvers and two bronzes, with the host nation so far claiming three golds, three silvers and one bronze.
LAUGHER was going for the golden triple in Edinburgh, having already triumphed in the men's 1m and 3m springboard. He and partner MEARS are the Olympic champions, but they knew they had formidable rivals in the Russian pair and it was a tight battle from the first to the last dive.
KUZNETSOV and ZAKHAROV took the lead in the first two dives, but then dropped to bronze position after an error on their third dive, a back three-and-a-half somersaults. The 2017 world champions rallied back and put out a superb last dive, a spectacular forward four-and-a-half somersaults, to edge LAUGHER and MEARS from top spot by just 0.54 points.
"It would have been enough for them [LAUGHER and MEARS] to do a 7.5 (score in the last dive), but we were fighting until the very end and our last dive, our trump card so to say, did the job," ZAKHAROV said.
LAUGHER and MEARS looked solid, and led heading into the last dive, which was the same forward four-and-a-half somersaults the Russians did, but their execution let them down and they dropped to second.
"It was never going to be easy against them. We showed today how good we could be," LAUGHER said. "They are difficult opposition and I think we did a cracking job. And to get a medal, you can't be not pleased.
"The Russians are our number one rivals. The Chinese are a little ahead, but the Russians are massive competitors and it's been nice to go head-to-head with them. It's been a fun and healthy competition."
Former world champion Patrick HAUSDING (GER), 29, who struggled with injuries and was not able to reach the podium places in his individual events, earned the bronze with partner Lars RUEDIGER (GER).
In the women's 1m springboard, POLIAKOVA was ranked fourth after the first three rounds, but lifted herself to first in her last two dives to secure victory with 285.55 points.
"It is kind of cool to have a title to carry," she said. "It is not about bragging, but it's cool. It (the 1m) is not as hard as the 10m (platform) or 3m (springboard) events, but it feels pretty good."
World silver medallist Nadezhda BAZHINA (RUS) settled for silver with 276.00 points. "This discipline [1m springboard] is my favourite, but I somehow can never win it," she said. "This is probably a motivation for me not to stop but to continue to work. I could have done better in everything. There is no limit to perfection."
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