Commonwealth champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Great Britain’s first medal of the Kazan 2015 World Championships with an historic bronze in the 3m Synchro.
Laugher and Mears were in sensational form as they scored 445.20 to become the first British 3m Synchro medallists at a World Championships and secure Great Britain’s first diving quota place for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the process.
Hot favourites Cao Yuan and Qin Kai took gold on 471.45 to win China’s sixth consecutive men’s 3m Synchro title while Russia’s Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov claimed silver for the third straight Worlds on 459.18.
But the Brits stood toe-to-toe with their experienced rivals throughout the final, sailing past their previous best score of 433.80 which landed them silver at this year’s World Series leg in London.
"It was a brilliant performance and there were some absolutely amazing dives from both of us," said Laugher, competing in 3m Synchro for the first time at a World Championships.
"It's a really special feeling and to have my best mate standing next to me as well is what makes it even sweeter.
"We couldn’t be happier and to get the Rio spot is a huge weight off our shoulders now.
"We won a silver at the London leg of the World Series and today we won bronze at the World Championships – that’s huge for us, and we’re very excited for next year."
The Brits' preparation for the event had been hampered by a niggling injury to Mears' back.
But the 22-year old, who finished seventh and eighth in the 3m Synchro at the last two World Championships, admitted he was determined to battle through the pain in the final.
"My preparation coming into the event wasn’t what I wanted it to be with my back," said Mears. "It still hurts a little bit right now - it's a bit temperamental but I'm still able to do my dives.
"I think it just proves that if you're in the right mindset, you can achieve anything.
"It's such a fantastic feeling to go out there and smash it like that considering we've had such a difficult season and training has been disrupted."
Having qualified strongly from the prelims in fourth, the Brits gave themselves a solid platform with their opening two low tariff required dives in the final, beating the 100 point mark to place sixth on 102.00.
Laugher and Mears hit top gear for their higher tariff optional dives, scoring in the 80s for all four as they carved their way into the podium positions.
The Brits moved on to the brink of a memorable result with their fourth effort, scoring 86.70 for their inward 3 ½ somersaults with tuck to jump into second place on the leader board, trailing China by just 1.5 points.
And while the Russians ultimately leapfrogged the Brits into the silver medal position, Laugher and Mears underlined their potential for next year’s Olympics as they kept their heads to land their first World Championship honours.
Both British divers will go again in the individual 3m Springboard with the prelims on Thursday.