High diver Heslop strikes gold for World Champs qualification

20 Dec 2021

Aidan Heslop pulled off the most difficult dive in history to win a glorious gold at the FINA High Diving Qualifier - a victory that secures his spot at May's World Championships in Fukuoka. 

Across the two-day contest, staged in Abu Dhabi's Yas Bay, Heslop found himself second behind Romania's Constantin Popovici after two rounds on day one, only two points off the summit. 

Returning on Monday, the Welshman moved into the lead, thanks to a brilliantly-executed Inward 3 Somersaults 1/2 Twist Tuck (5461C) that earned him 95.40. And despite knowing he was on the verge of World Championship qualification, Heslop showed no nerves on the 27m platform ahead of his final dive, pulling off a breath-taking Forward 4 Somersaults 3 1/2 Twists Pike (5187B) that ranks as the hardest ever, with a 6.2 degree of difficulty.

Strong scores across the board saw Heslop awarded 133.30 points to end with a total tally of 436.90, enough for the gold medal, 3.35 ahead of Catalin-Petru Preda of Romania. 

The result also means the 19-year-old will be in line to represent Britain in the men's high diving event at the World Championships in Fukuoka next May - exciting times for somebody still so early in his career in the sport. 

Blake Aldridge finished just one place outside the top ten, with Owen Weymouth 17th in the men's competition.

Lower down the heights, the British team of Robyn Birch, James Heatly and Matthew Dixon clinched silver in the FINA Diving Team Exhibition. That event was also staged over two days, with Birch and Heatly teaming up from the 3m springboard on day one, with one individual dive apiece, before a synchronised effort.

With the team sitting fifth at the halfway stage, Birch and Matthew Dixon then combined from the 10m platform in the same format. The pair's Forward 3 1/2 Somersaults Pike (107B) rounded out the competition, with their score of 67.50 moving them on to 385.45 overall, behind only Brazil and earning a silver medal to round out 2021.