Tom Daley and Matty Lee won Great Britain’s second medal of the World Aquatics Championships, bronze in the Men’s 10m Synchro, securing an Olympic spot in the process.
With one round to go the pressure couldn’t have been higher, a mistake in the fifth round meaning Ukraine were breathing down their necks, but the British pair delivered when it mattered most, meaning they’ll be leaving Gwangju with at least one piece of silverware.
Two polished required dives set them on their way, with China and Russia holding a marginal advantage, but as anticipated it would all come down to their four optional dives, with perfection need as their aforementioned rivals possessed slightly more difficult dive lists.
Round three was solid, but it was the fourth round where the London-based pairing shifted up into top gear, a sumptuous Back 3 ½ Somersault Pike (207B) scoring a huge 97.20 points to move them up into second place.
A slight slip in round five meant it was looking like bronze, but Daley and Lee knew they had to produce something of the highest order to ensure their fate remained in their own hands, and that they did. After a nervous wait for the score to come up, a cracking Front 3 ½ Somersault Tuck (109C) was rewarded with 89.91 points, giving them a bronze medal winning tally of 425.91 points, 10 points better than in qualifying.
Both delighted and relieved, Matty Lee said:
“After the last dive we were just waiting to see whether our name came up first or second, which would mean we’d won a medal and it was a long wait. Finally second came up and I’m just so happy that we did it.”
Daley, who like Lee landed his first 10m Synchro world medal, added:
“I’ve never been in a position before where I’ve had a synchro partner the year before the Olympics, going up their knowing that if we got a medal we weren’t just world medallists, but we’d also qualify a spot for the Olympic Games for GB, so it’s a massive relief and job done.
“It feels so good, but now the mission starts for the individual event – it’s top 12 in that event to secure a spot at the Olympic Games and I’ve also got the Mixed 3m Synchro as well, so there’s lots still to come.”
Daley is back in action Friday morning in Men’s 10m qualifying, where he’ll be looking to defend his world title, whilst he’ll contest the Mixed 3m Synchro with Grace Reid on Saturday night.
Also in final action on Monday evening were Reid and her synchro partner Kat Torrance, the pair having qualified for the Women’s 3m Synchro final with ease earlier in the day.
The duo made a strong start, notching up 48.60 points for the first of their required dives, but a slight mistake in their second dive meant they were seventh, with work to do. Bouncing back immediately Reid and Torrance executed a quality Forward 2 ½ Somersault 1 Twist (5152B), good for 69.30 points, to move them up to fourth with two dives remaining.
Another strong dive saw them hold position, knowing if they could make up a 1.5 point deficit on the Mexican’s they’d bag themselves a medal. It wasn’t to be though, as a 63.00 point Back 2 ½ Somersault Pike (205B) was short of the kind of show-stopping finish they needed; ultimately Russia would deliver such a dive to sneak fourth, with Reid and Torrance finishing fifth on 289.80 points, some 10 points up on their qualification score.
Commenting on their performance Grace said:
“We’re really pleased. Obviously to be so close to that medal is frustrating but we left everything that we had out there today, so it’s bittersweet. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that our step up from training is quite big, which is a real asset – some of the other teams it has the opposite effect and they maybe buckle under pressure. Five points is all it is – it’s reassuring that we’re that close but we’ve got stuff to go away and work on.”
“To get that World Series place confirmed [by virtue of a top six finish] is always a bonus as it gives you a couple of competitions before the biggest ones next year, so it’s a good one to have in the bag.”
Of her aspirations for the rest of the week, Reid, who’ll contest the Women’s 3m and the Mixed 3m Synchro alongside Daley, added:
“I’m up again on Thursday so I need to reset and just take it one day at a time. Top 12 is in my head, but at the end of the day diving well is more important, as that will take care of the result.”
The only other Brit who was in action on day four of the 2019 global championships was Kate Shortman, the Artistic Swimmer continuing her fine 2019 form. Having made the final in the Women’s Solo Tech, where she finished a very credible 10th, the 17 year old backed it up by making the Solo Freestyle final with another mature performance.
Still just 17 years of age, Shortman swam a challenging,
creative routine, which the judges rewarded with 84.6000 points meaning she’ll
be back for a shot at the final on Wednesday night. Before then though she’ll
team up with her partner Izzy Thorpe for the Women’s Duet Freestyle prelim,
where the pair will hope a lifetime best performance could put them in the
final. That event kicks off at 11:00 local time on Tuesday.
Full results from the FINA World Aquatics Championships can be found here.
You can catch all the action live on FINA TV