Lois Toulson and Eden Cheng’s first Olympic appearance together ended in a seventh-placed finish in the Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform event on Tuesday morning.
The pair secured a stylish silver medal at the Diving World Cup in the same Tokyo Aquatics Centre venue in May, ensuring they would compete at Tokyo 2020 – an Olympic debut for Cheng, a second Games outing for Toulson following Rio 2016.
After the two ‘required’ dives to open the competition, the Team GB duo found themselves eighth in the standings and looking to make a move with their optionals.
That target began with a Forward 3 ½ Somersaults Pike (107B) in round three. Toulson (coached by Marc Holdsworth at the City of Leeds) and Cheng (who works under Lin Chen at Crystal Palace) were in brilliant synchronicity throughout the dive, although a slight angle of entry issue denied them the execution marks that would have fired them up the points table, a tally of 58.40 coming their way for that one.
Back-to-back silvers at World Cup and European Championship level earlier in the year showed that this pair are able to deal with the pressure of delivering on the biggest diving stages, and they gave the best illustration of their class in this final with their fourth dive, an Inward 3 ½ Somersaults Tuck (407C).
The 3.2 degree difficulty dive tallied an impressive 71.04 points, the third-highest of the round and enough to move them up to seventh, the position they stayed after picking up 69.12 points for their closing Back 2 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twists Pike (5253B) effort to end with a final score of 289.26.
China’s Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi were superb throughout to take gold on 363.78, with the pair from the United States taking silver on 310.80 and Mexico’s duo bronze on 299.70.
Toulson will be back in action in the individual Women’s 10m Platform on Wednesday 4th August, when Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix will also go for Team GB – and Toulson hopes to use this synchro outing as a valuable Olympic learning curve.
“I think, overall, we’re pretty disappointed. We know we can dive a lot better than that. We managed to do a couple of good dives in there which we’re happy with, but there was a lot of room for improvement – we’ve been diving a lot better than that, so it is just frustrating,” said the World Championship medallist.
“Hopefully I can put that behind me and use it as experience, I guess. I feel like I’ve got rid of some of the cobwebs now, so hopefully I’ll be ready to go for next week. I have targets in terms of individual dives, but I don’t really think about positions or placings.”
Olympic debutant Cheng added: “The training in the past week prior to competition was a lot better than we put out, we’ve been getting high scores a lot recently, so it’s a bit of a downer.
“There were probably just a few nerves. This is still one of the few competitions that we have competed in in the last couple of years, due to the pandemic.”
Next up in the diving competition is the Men’s Synchronised 3m Springboard, when Jack Laugher will look to defend the Olympic title he won in Rio 2016 with ‘new’ synchro partner Dan Goodfellow, having won in Brazil with Chris Mears. That final takes place from 7am BST on Wednesday 28th July. Find out the full schedule HERE.