British Diving's strength in depth on show with historic Worlds performance

24 Jul 2023

British Diving's outstanding strength in depth was there for all to see in a history-making World Championships for the team in Fukuoka.

The 11-strong team leftJapan with three world silver medals - all in Olympic events - and eight Olympic quota spots qualified, as well as a host of other eye-catching performances under the belt, one year out from Paris 2024. 

Jack Laugher and Anthony Harding opened the diving programme up with Britain's first medal on day two, their second silver in as many World Championship outings as a pair in the Men's 3m Synchro, the Adam Smallwood-coached duo from the Leeds British Diving Performance Centre as classy and clinical as ever.

That was then followed by a moment of history courtesy of Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, the 2022 European champions securing silver in the Women's 10m Synchro to become the first athletes to win a World Championship medal for Britain in a women's event. 

Just 24 hours later, the feat was repeated, as Scarlett Mew Jensen and Yasmin Harper teamed up to win another silver in the Women's 3m Synchro. All three of those synchro medals also came with Paris 2024 quota spot qualification, which was the primary target for the competition as a whole. World and Commonwealth medal-winning duo Noah Williams and Matty Lee narrowly missed out on the podium in the Men's 10m Synchro, finishing fourth. 

Another five quota spots were secured over the individual side of the programme, which required athletes to finish in the top 12 and therefore qualify for the final. Two such spots came in the Men's 10m Platform, where Noah Williams (fourth) and Kyle Kothari (fifth) contributed to a quite stunning final. 

There were also quota spots qualified by Toulson in the Women's 10m Platform, Dan Goodfellow in the Men's 3m Springboard and Mew Jensen in the Women's 3m Springboard. 

Anthony Harding Jack Laugher required dive Men's 3m Synchro Fukuoka 2023
Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher proved their world-class synchro credentials again

On top of the Fukuoka success is the achievements of the European Games team from last month. That competition included stunning golds for Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Amy Rollinson in the Women's 3m Synchro, Ross Haslam in the Men's 1m Springboard and Eden Cheng in the Women's 10m Platform, the latter title qualifying another Paris quota place. 

Reflecting on the World Championship performances and the targets achieved, Associate Performance Director Tim Jones said: "We were really clear about what the priority was this year, it was all about Olympic quota spots. We knew that if we performed well, then medals would come as a result of that - but the fact that we're now in a position where we have nine slots of an available 12 is pretty huge for us, and it vindicates the decision we made this year," he said. 

"It also demonstrates the strength in depth of our programme, the fact we were able to send two separate teams to this World Championships and to European Games, and we won medals at both events.

"That's really important for us. The fact that we can now begin a relatively traditional approach to the Olympic season is important because we're not chasing too many spots, and I'd be quietly confident that we can still convert the three remaining places in Doha, and we'll make sure we give that the attention it deserves.

"My overriding feeling is we've demonstrated competitiveness towards the podium in every single event we've participated in, and that's probably something we haven't seen in the past. It's that depth and the ability to step up in finals which has been terrific this time around."

The British Diving team that attended last year's World Championships in Budapest won six medals in total, including bronzes in the mixed Team event and the Mixed 3m Synchro, as well as four on the men's side. 

This time around, with Paris on the horizon, the focus was on Olympic events only, with three medals returned - including those two women's synchro medals that shows just how much quality there currently is across the team in both individual and synchro disciplines.

"It's really important for us, it's difficult to overestimate how important that is. We've had a strategy sitting in the background around female performance, and it certainly isn't the case that because we've had a good event for our females that that is ticked off," added Jones.

"That is something that will continue to evolve, and we think there are other medal opportunities there for the women as well. But isn't it great that we are talking about both genders in such a positive way as we move forward into the next 12 months."

British Diving Head Coach Alexei Evangulov added: "We can consider this team's performance in Fukuoka as very successful. In terms of Olympic events, we have won three medals at the last three World Championships - it was one silver and two bronze in Gwangju in 2019, two silver and one bronze last year and now three silvers in Fukuoka. 

"On top of that, we have nine out of a possible 12 Olympic qualification spots secured, which was the target we prioritised, so that is fantastic."

To check out our daily round-ups from the diving programme at the World Championships, visit our Diving News page.