Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Ukraine

Another successful edition of the FINA World Junior Championships kicked off in Kyiv on Sunday, 22 July, 2018. Sport Centre LIKO has been playing host since then for the major global meet of the year challenging under 18 years old divers in hot pursuit of the 17 sets of medals.

Tremendous Opening Ceremony, which saw presence of a number high FINA and LOC officials, gave bless to the start, declaring the competitions open. Like 2 years ago in Kazan, Great Britain defended their title, finishing atop in the Mixed Team event. Columbia and China were the other two gold-winning nations on Competition Day 2, which played out titles on the springboard.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov


Opening ceremony of the 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships was staged on 23 July,2018, previewing the final sessions. It registered a large portion of high officials and media, and was broadcasted live both on FINA TV and two major national Ukranian channels.

FINA President Dr. Julio C.Maglione had the floor first and did not miss his chance congratulating organisers on the successful job done.

“There is no doubts for me, that the local Organising Committee is full ready for the start. Everything goes smoothly and flawlessly. It is a big pleasure to come to Kyiv, which has lately become one of the world important centers of diving. We register a record number of participant countries – 42, which are represented by some 230 participants. During this coming week they will play out not just titles and medals, but also 36 trips to Argentina, the host country of the Youth Olympic Games-2018”.

“We are grateful to FINA for collaboration, and for the big honor to stage one of the major aquatic tournaments in our country, - responded Ukrainian minister of Sports and Youth Igor Zhdanov. – We realize, it is also a responsibility and a good opportunity for us to show our traditional Ukrainian hospitality, alongside the best facilities, which can give impetus for further promising championships in the future”.

“Future stars of tomorrow will be a part of our contest, and it is a unique opportunity to see future participants of Youth Olympic Games-2018 in action here, in Kyiv, - emphasized Valery Borzov, Ukrainian Olympic Committee Vice President. – We do very much hope, that luck will favor our local divers, competing on the home soil, which will add to the competition and to the attention of spectators and TV audience we have”.

“All participants have safely arrived on time, - said Igor Lysov, Ukranian Diving Federation President. -Some of them have already started to compete in our state-of-the-art arena, which already hosted European Diving Championships one year ago. Our people love aquatics, and this is why, we very much hope to see a lot of spectators supporting junior competitors during the championships. It was my pleasure to learn, that everyone praises the LIKO Arena, the Organising Committee, and the hospitality. Our foreign guests seem to be pretty happy and enjoy all the top quality services they might need".


First event of the 8-days-competition program saw Great Britain defending their title in the Mixed Team event.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

According to the rules, each mixed squad consisted of 2 to 4 divers, representing both genders and age groups. There were 5 dives without the Degree of Difficulty limit on the program, taken at least of four different groups, three of them were performed from 1m springboard, 3m springboard and 5m - 7.5m or 10m platform, and the rest two were a mixed synchro 1m and 3m springboard.

Reigning champion Great Britain and diving powerhouse China were pace-setting from the outset and presented a breathtaking competition to the show-thirsty public. Opening’s choice for 1m synchro was identical - a Reverse 1.5 Somersaults 1.5 Twists, scored by 53.30 and 57.20 points on their respective performance. British got slightly better in the 2nd round, as Anthony Harding alone on the lowest board posted an Inward 1.5 Somersaults pike. He outscored Wu Luxian on Forward 3.5 Somersaults tuck by 6 points, 48.00 – 42.00 just to see Asians coming back on top 10 points up with their 3rd dive (Back 2.5 Somersaults pike with 3.0 on the difficulty). Yasmin Harper kept her team in the game setting a new day high on the Forward 4.5 Somersaults with pike. Luck favored her team as Chinese "sank". 14-years old Liu Liang did not cope both with the pressure and a complicated Inward 3.5 Somersaults tuck, assessed lowly by 59.20 points, ruining their hopes and giving rise for British, which ended on a marvelous 318.70 overall to celebrate Mixed Team gold for the second edition to go.

“It is a great competition, I mean, that the FINAWorld Junior Diving Championships gives much experience, - said one of the lucky winners, Lucas Thompson of Great Britain. - We could not expect this win beforehand, because the Chinese are very strong. They are in fact a top diving nation now. What does it feel to be a champion? A lot! Mixed Team event is very special and very exciting. Its results the second edition to go show, that the British diving is hopefully progressing and we have a good future”.

Another local battle highlighted chasing the bronze medal. Mexico could neither defend their vice-champion’s merits nor land on the podium this year. They rallied to Australians, which were significantly brushed and improved since 2016. Charting as low as 12 there, they jumped now high right up to catch bronze in Kyiv, earning 304.50 points, comparing to 291.45 of the Mexicans, left disappointingly fourth.

Ex-host Russia, 291.00, and present host Ukraine, 284.35, completed the top 6 of the Mixed Team event, which saw another 9 nations trying hard to achieve good results.


Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

Unexpected denouement brought forth a new name for the Boys A 3m springboard. It all started as it should, when there are strong China's divers in the game, all armed and ready for the action. Wu Luxian of China was the main newsmaker of the prelims, first heading the finals on a solid overall of 565.05 points. The second to beat was Columbian Daniel Restrepo Garcia, which rested on 583.35 points, alongside owning the morning high of 87.40 on the Forward 4.5 Somersaults tuck. It was not a coincidence though, but an early prospect for the inspiring final. Chinese pace-maker had been leading all the way to the ultimate round, but could not concentrate on his version of the complicated 109C dive and got his day’s low of 58.90 points. No chance to stay on top, he was landed to second. Columbian took his chance right on time. Constantly improving his chart rank in the all the way in the final round, he did resist agitation of the victory's proximity. He even managed to improve on his morning's best score, posting 89.30 on last round, for the overall winning of 583.35.

The bronze was actually between 5 divers: Anthony Harding of Great Britain, Matthew Carter of Australia, Hattie Bryden of Canada, and occasionally Lou Massenberg of Germany. However, another diving master of China had his take on the podium prospect, and did his job well. Lian Junjie, naturally the platform speciallist, had been keeping in shade up to the penultimate round. As it turned out, he saved his best for the last, winging to bronze on 570.40 points. Sealing his impressive list was the most popular today's attempt of 109C, which registered the day-high, 96.90 points.

“We train it really hard to make it look easy, - confessed 2018 Junior world champion Daniel Restrepo Garcia of Columbia. – It was not easy at all, but I had a higher difficulty than the others. I think it was the key for the eventual win. I respect my opponents a lot, they were strong, and I could never expect that the golden dream can become true on the very last round. The win turned out to be very nervous”.

“I wanted to win this competition. Now I’m a bit disappointed that I earned silver. I know what has happened, it was all about the mistake in my last dive. Nevertheless, a medal is fine. I need to train more to achieve better results.”

According to Lian Junjie, which landed bronze, the medal was not the main challenge for him in this competition.

“I normally dive platform, I was World Champion in 2017 in the mixed event, so I try to develop myself learning something new. I am on the road to universality, which is a good trend in the modern diving, - he added.

Britain, Australia and Canada were the other 3 nations in the Top 6, as their divers got overall from 562.25 to 535.70 points. Chasers, which included Germany, Spain and Mexico were really close, standing within 20 points interval. Netherlands, USA and surprisingly Russia closed down the final list of the event.


Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

A very different story related to the Girls B (14 – 15 years old) 1m springboard. Lai Shiyun’s did very stable, and her eventual win never looked in doubt. Chienese youngster has been leading since Preliminaries Round 2 and never gave initiative back. First heading into the final, she posted the day-best at the initial attempt – 403B, 57.600 points as her overall reached 372.75 points, with 25 ahead of the nearest challenger.

“I am very happy about the win. I trained very hard during these 8 months to go and was to have good fruits, - said the winner. – This is my first Junior World Championships and this is my first international meet this year. It is a pleasure to see I have brought the first gold to my nation”.

Minor merits were actually between 4 divers. American Hailey Hernandez confidently earned silver, 347.45 points , as Russian Elizaveta Kanso, on the contrary, took the last train to capture bronze, posting 50.50 on Forward 1.5Somersaults 2 Twists dive. Although finishing in the top 3, the girl said she was not exceedingly happy.

“I have improved on myself, comparing to the Prelims, I am glad, I have managed to pull myself together and got a better result, but I was not perfect, - emphasized Russian prodigy. – My ultimate dive was a thorn on my side. I started too high and then it took much energy to recover and take the right flying action”.

A different mood was on the face of the silver medal holder Hailey Hernandez of the USA.

“I tried to do my best, I strived to take care of each individual dive, and I am happy on my silver medal. – My opponents were very strong, and I could not even suppose I would end up on the podium”.

At a step to the merits stood 4 other chasers. Julia Deng of Germany, which finished fourth, 334.30 points, another Russian Elizaveta Kuzina, ranking 5th, 328.35, Chinese He Yanwei and Anni Paloheimo, ending on 325.45 – 325.25 respectively. All could have been a medal lock, provided their junior changeable nature would not be in action.

The 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships, staged in Kyiv LIKO Sport Center until July, 29, will proceed tomorrow with 3 more medals sets on offer - in the Girls A 1m springboard, Girls B platform and Boys A/B 3m synchro springboard.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

Competition results. 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships. Day 1 – 2

Mixed Team Event

1. GBR (Thompson Lucas, Harper Yasmin, Hardin Anthony, Cutmore Ben) 318.70

2. CHN (Long Daoyi, Lin Shan, Wu Luzian, Liu Jialing) 307.50

3. AUS (Flint Lauren, Fricker Samuel, Koloi Alysha, Carter Matthew) 320.95

4. MEX (Vazquez Montano Aranza, Jimenez Mestas Gael, Olvera Ibarra Osmar, Bermeo Gonzalez Jeffrey Abraham) 291.45

5. RUS (Ternovoy Ruslan, Kliueva Uliana, Lebedev Alexandr, Malofeev Maksim) 291.00

6. UKR (Lyskun Sofiia, Kryvopyshyn Nikita, Hroza Dmytro, Konovalov Danylo) 284.35

7. ITA (Pellacani Chiara, Volpe Antonio, Giovannini Riccardo, Belotti Stefano) 282.50

8. GER (Massenberg Lou, Hentschel Lena, Schal Ludwig, Shyrykhay Anna) 276.80

9. USA (Coburn Maria, Downs Tyler, Weinrich Max, Hernandex Hailey) 275.30

10. CAN (Hattie Bryden, Zsombor-Murray Nathan, Erkam Margo, Gosselin-Paradis Laurent) 259.30

11. JPN (Nishida Reo, Ikuma Senri, Yasuda Mai) 258.90

12. COL (Madrigal Steffanie, Ramirez Juan, Restrepo Garcia Daniel, Uribe Bermudez Luis Felipe) 233.70

13. BRA (Rodrigues Martins Dos Santos Anna Lucia, Silva Max De Almeida Rafael, Bonfim Dos Santos Moura Luis Felipe, Figueredo Pereira Kawan) 214.65

14. NZL (Brown Nathan John Ray, Sipkes Luke, Morse Holly) 176.85

15. AUS (Schaller Nikolaj, Staudenherz Selina, Knoll Anton) 164.15

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

Girls B 1m springboard

1. Lai Shiyun (CHN) 372.75, 2. Hernandez Hailey (USA) 347.45, 3. Kanso Elizaveta (RUS) 343.45, 4. Deng Julia (GER) 334.30, 5. Kuzina Elizaveta (RUS) 328.35, 6. He Yanwei (CHN) 325.45, 7. Paloheimo Anni (FIN) 325.05, 8. Conn Tatiana Elizabeth Grace (CAN) 320.10 9. Biginelli Maia (ITA) 317.75, 10. Wright Daryn (USA) 313.90, 11. Arnautova Anna (UKR) 306.15, 12. Hallaselka Lauren (FIN) 283.25

Boys A 3m springboard

1. Restrepo Garcia Daniel (COL) 583.35, 2. Wu Luxian (CHN) 582.50, 3. Lian Junjie (CHN) 570.40, 4. Harding Anthony (GBR) 562.25, 5. Carter Matthew (AUS) 541.30, 6. Hattie Bryden (CAN) 535.70, 7. Massenberg Lou (GER) 532.35, 8. Abadia Garcia Adrian Giovanni (ESP) 530.50, 9. Bermeo Gonzalez Jeffrey Abraham (MEX) 520.55, 10. Vork Dylan (NED) 511.60, 11. Matthews Jack (USA) 485.15, 12. Ternovoy Ruslan (RUS) 480.35.