Tom Daley returned to top level competition with a bang this weekend as he took a closely contested silver in the Men’s 10m Platform and bronze alongside Grace Reid in the Mixed 3m Synchro on the final day of action at the opening FINA Diving World Series of the year.
Taking place in the Sagamihara Green Pool on the outskirts of Tokyo, Daley produced one of the best series of his life, the reigning world champion only denied victory by an unbelievable card from China’s world record holder and reigning Diving World Series champion Jian Yang.
What’s more Daley returned to the board just minutes later to renew his partnership with Grace Reid, the pair clinching bronze with their final dive of the competition to cap off a great weekend for the British team.
For Daley though, who took a break from the sport last year as he became a Dad for the first time, it was a brilliant return to the highest level, with his score of 579.85 points just 10 points shy of his lifetime best.
Daley didn’t miss a dive, and was looking good for a top two finish at the halfway point, before acing the toughest dive on his card, a Forward 4 ½ Somersault Tuck (109C), which was rewarded with a huge 105 points. He wasn’t done there though as his final dive, a Back 3 ½ Somersault Pike (207B) was just one judge short of straight 10s, amassing a 108.0 total, only bettered by Yang’s final winning dive of 112.75.
Having sat out most of the 2018 World Series, Daley will be hoping to continue the type of form he has showed this weekend throughout the next two months, culminating with a home leg in London in May. A regular on the podium, could 2019 be the year he takes the overall crown?
Straight after his platform performance, Daley stepped down to the springboard alongside Reid for the 3m Mixed Synchro, the pair scoring 312.24 to bag bronze. In the mix throughout, the fight for the medals was always going to go down to the wire, given the standard of the completion, which ultimately saw all eight pairs go over 300 points.
Lying fifth going into their last effort, the Jane Figueiredo coached pair pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a 72.54 Front 3 ½ Somersault Pike (107B), to secure a place on the final podium of the competition.
After a great weekend of action, Daley commented:
“It’s my first time back competing internationally since becoming a Dad and taking some time away from the sport, so I’m really happy to come back with that. All the things I have been working on have come together but there’s still a lot more in the tank, so I’m feeling good and looking forward to going to Beijing now.
“I knew I was close to Jian Yang so I wanted to put as much pressure on him as possible going into the last couple of rounds and I did all that I could do with my last dive, but with his 4.1 degree of difficulty it was always going to be tough. If someone told me I was going to score almost 580 points coming into today I’d have taken it and run!”
“We’re really pleased – we were keeping an eye on the rankings and we knew the last dive had to be good and that we had to step our game up. We’ve had a busy week, both diving three events, so it’s been quite exhausting but I think we’ve both had a really good first leg of the World Series.”
The morning session also saw Matty Lee in action in Men’s 10m Platform qualifying, and after a strong performance in the synchro event on Friday he backed it up again today . In the end though, despite an 86.40 score in the third round, he couldn’t quite squeeze into the top three qualifying positions, having to settle for fourth in Semi-Final B.
Reid and Kat Torrance also contested the Women’s 3m Springboard, both women drawn in Semi-Final B. Again the strength in depth was exceptional, the duo finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
The FINA Diving World Series resumes in earnest on Thursday as our divers make the short journey from Tokyo to Beijing.
Full results from all three days of action can be found here
Tickets for the London leg of the series, which takes place at the London Aquatics Centre from 17-19 May are on sale here.