Jack Laugher took the first individual title of the British National Diving Cup 2023 in commanding fashion, with Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Scarlett Mew-Jensen putting in a composed synchro performance on a busy day two in Edinburgh.
The Men's 3m Springboard final proved a close battle between the front runners from the heats, with City of Sheffield’s Jordan Houlden and City of Leeds’ Laugher leading the way during the opening rounds of dives - but it was the latter diver who managed to pull away as the event progressed.
This was proved at the halfway mark, with Laugher producing a stunning Inward 3 ½ Somersault Tuck (407C) in the third round to take him into a 22-point lead over Houlden, with Sheffield’s Ross Haslam hot on their heels following a solid Reverse 1 1/2 Somersault 3 1/2 Twist Free (5337D), which ignited the crowd in Edinburgh.
It was Laugher’s Leeds teammate Dan Goodfellow who then made his mark in the latter stages of the event, as he put himself into the mix for the medals in round five following a huge Forward 4 ½ Somersault Tuck (109C) – scoring him 85.50 points and throwing the race for the silver wide open.
Heading into the final round of dives, Laugher had a comfortable lead of 46.00 points from Haslam following a Forward 4 ½ Somersault Tuck (109C) of his own, which gave him a staggering 91.20 points, with Goodfellow and Houlden close behind.
It was the final round where the field really began to show their true form, though, as Haslam held his grasp on the silver medal places with a Forward 2 ½ Somersault 2 Twist Pike (5154B) to score him 81.60 and finish on 467.35.
It was a tighter affair for the bronze medal positions, with both Houlden and Goodfellow producing close to their best dives of the day, but it was the latter athlete who took the last step on the podium. Dan clinched the bronze medal with a Back 3 ½ Somersault Tuck (207C), to score him 86.40 and 453.65 overall. Houlden had to settle for fourth position, as his Forward 4 ½ Somersault Tuck (109C), whilst scoring 87.40 points, only closed the gap by one point to see him finish on 448.85.
Out in front, it was Laugher who took the gold medal on his final dive with a Forward 2 ½ Somersault 3 Twist Pike (5156B), to put him 50 points ahead of Haslam on 517.55.
The Women’s 3m Synchro event proved to be a close contest for the gold, with Dive London Aquatics duo Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Scarlett Mew-Jensen ultimately taking the title following a consistent performance across all five dives in their second outing as a pairing.
The pair were involved in a battle throughout the event with Yasmin Harper (City of Sheffield) and Katherine Torrance (City of Leeds), who stayed with them up until the final dive, thanks to a penultimate Back 2 ½ Somersault Pike (205B) to score them 63.00, before a drop in their final dive took them off the pace to see them finish on 244.50.
The battle for the bronze medal was even closer, but it was Callie Eaglestone (City of Leeds) and Maya Kutty (Southampton Diving Academy) who built up enough of a lead during the event, thanks to a stronger Inward 2 ½ Somersault Pike (405B) on their third dive which made the difference – scoring them 39.60, before closing their accounts with a 50.40 score on their Forward 2 ½ Somersault 1 Twist Pike (5152B), to finish on 220.20 points – narrowly ahead of Evie Smith (Dive London) and Tilly Brown (Southampton), who were edged out into fourth on 218.10 points.
Guests Elna Widerström and Emilia Nilsson Garip of Sweden were the third-placed finishers, and also received a pair of bronze medals for their performance.
The plaudits went to Bent-Ashmeil and Mew-Jensen, though, as they made the difference with all three optional dives scoring over 60 points – including a Forward 3 ½ Somersault Tuck (107B) to give them their biggest score of 65.10 on their penultimate dive before catapulting to a score of 282.90 at the close of play.
They gave a levelled account of themselves when speaking after the medal presentation, ahead of what will be a busy year for them as the season develops.
“This is our second outing as a pair so we just came here thinking to be positive and take things one dive at a time, making sure to not overthink or place too much pressure on ourselves," said Desharne.
"I think because we're such a new pairing it's about gaining that confidence so it's nice to have a boost at the start of the year, and it's great to have a partner that I train with every day as well," added Scarlett.
"We'll be going back to training after this and have a chance to keep training together and continue to make progress individually, and then see from there what events we are selected for and again, no expectations, we are just going to ride it out.”
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