8 August 19:36 (BST)

VAN DUIJN surprises the world of diving - and herself - with gold medal

EDINBURGH - Celine Maria VAN DUIJN grabbed a special place in the history of Dutch diving with a gold medal at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships on Wednesday - to the surprise of fans, followers and even herself.

Not since the days of Edwin and Daphne JONGEJANS in the springboard events in the 1980s and early 1990s has the Netherlands been able to celebrate major gold medals in the sport.

Uschi FREITAG, a German-turned-Dutch diver won a rare (3m) springboard silver in the 2016 European championships. But few officials and journalists at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh were around to remember the last time that Dutch diving enjoyed golden success more than 25 years ago - before VAN DUIJN was born.

The Dutch fans and team members in orange shirts in Edinburgh just enjoyed watching her 10m platform triumph while the 25-year-old VAN DUIJN was flummoxed when asked by reporters what the victory meant for her country and Dutch diving.

"Actually I have no idea because it's my first time (winning a medal)," she said. "Everybody was unbelievably happy and cheering for me and everyone was feeling the pressure as I was getting closer to a medal."

Netherlands team manager Nancy ROZA said the result was "massive for Dutch diving" since the country has only one top-class training centre for platform divers, in Eindhoven.

VAN DUIJN was not expected to figure in the medals, even after topping the preliminaries on Wednesday morning. Divers often perform differently in the finals to the qualification and she admitted she was surprised by her victory.

"You are looking around, hearing the scores and seeing what other people are doing," she said. "After a few dives I knew I had a chance of getting a medal so I became even more nervous and that is the biggest thing to keep under control. This was a big surprise."

VAN DUIJN did not even take up diving until she was 18, the age at which many of her rivals are already enjoying international success.

"Actually I'm older but I'm still young to diving," she said. "Most divers start when they are six years old but I was a gymnast before. The strength, the balance and flexibility is the same (in gymnastics) but the technique is totally different. I had a lot of injuries in gymnastics so I had to stop. In diving you can get fewer injuries."

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