Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Ukraine

The first for Romania, another by China, and a breakthrough by Australia and Russia. New champions and medal holders emerged on Competition day 5 of the 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships in Kyiv. 3 medals sets have been on offer. Read on to learn how the events unfolded.

GIRLS A/B PLATFORM SYNCHRO

One year ago, Phoebe Banks of Great Britain celebrated European senior gold in Kyiv. Teaming Ruby Bower, the British collected 299.19 points overall to finish atop of the women's platform synchro contest. 22nd edition of the FINA World Junior Diving Championships was a different story in the same environment. The main obstacle on her route to the crown (together with a new partner Emily Martin, who already accompanied her on the way to the European Junior bronze this year) emerged in the Chinese duo. Lai & Liu executed a difficult diving list and were top-scoring in almost all rounds of the competition.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

There was a surprise in store for the Ukranian crowd. After the initial two rounds hosts Nika Shurda and Violeta Sverchkova came up on top, but it was an occasional pleasure as more intricate dives soon returned the events run back on course. Chinese set the pace, followed by the British, Australian and Romanian duos, which was unexpected though had a stronger floor. 

Although Lai Shiyun and Liu Jialing learned they were a duo 3 days ago, they dived well enough to earn the title. Their advantage grew as they performed 3.2 DD dives in the ultimate rounds. One of the two was an Inward 3.5 Somersaults tuck, which harvested the day high of 84.40 points for the winning total of 314.68 points. The gap to the rest of the battlefield made up some comfortable 36 points.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

“Our chemistry is not perfect, because we are a very young duo, - put it mildly Liu Jialing of China. – We did our best to win, but this gold was never taken for granted. This was the first time we have competed together, so the list of our dives was a sort of improvisation of our coaches.”

Chasing silver was never easy. Rotation was fast and included 3 nations: Australia, eventual champion China, and Great Britain. Phoebe Banks and Emily Martin went second with 2 rounds remaining in the final session and they were definitely not inclined to share silver with someone else. Finishing on 278.79 points, they celebrated silver, which was the second British medal at the championships.

“We are pretty happy about the medal and its color, - said Phoebe Banks. - We tried to concentrate on each individual dive and did not think about the resulting placements. Coming back to Kyiv was pretty exciting for me, and again I managed to get good fruits. Silver is an achievement indeed, because there were a lot of strong duos in the competition”.

Another surprise came on the side of Romania. When first checked-in the top three (after Round #3 of the final session) Muscalu & Pavel seemed to be occasional travelers. On the contrary, the youngest runners-up in the competition kept on the given speed and posted dives confidently, and as a result, landed on bronze with 265.44 points overall.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

Bronze of the 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships turned out to be the first medal for the Romanian diving within a quarter-century. 

“We have been training for 3 months together before this trip to Kyiv, and there were some huge problems with synchronization, - noted Nicoleta-Angelica Muscalu. - We ranked 4th at the European Junior Diving Championships in Helsinki but a month ago, but that result did not give us confidence. Bronze is a great result for our nation, which has been scoreless for a very long period of time”.

Italian Elettra Neroni and Maia Biginelli, silver medalists of the "European Juniors", have been considered as chasers for the merits, but came to the finish lowly 4th on 260.46. Most experienced Nikita Hains and Anna-Rose Keating of Australia were also out of the medal's contest, landing straight after on fifth, 250.92.

BOYS A 1M SPRINGBOARD

It was a good chance for Wang Zongyuan of China to recover and return face getting disappointingly 5th in the 3m synchro. He was hot ready for the challenge and gave it all for the win.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

The Chinese had been top-scoring since early in the morning session and finished over 40 points ahead of the nearest challenger. By a funny coincidence, the challenger was Victor Povzner, one of the Canadian duo, benefiting most of the accident on the 3m springboard synchro, 2 days ago. In the 1m springboard final he also tried to stay competitive in terms of the chase on merits, but with no notable progress. Wang did his complicated list steadily. Posting two piked dives - Inward 2.5 Somersaults and Forward 3.5 Somersaults – to close his final program, he registered a marvelous total of 540 points, with no other divers in close vicinity.

Another Chinese Li Zheng, 18 year old, stood at a distance. He got silver on 526.85 points.

“I never felt pressure competing my much more experienced teammate, - said Wang Zongyuan, the champion. – I dived well today, just like I normally do in practice. I got a micro-injury on the footfinger , breaking my nail during 3m synchro event, which still aches a lot, but I did my best and managed to concentrate on my performance”.

If gold and silver were somewhat predetermined, the bronze was not.

There were, at the very least, 4 contenders for the medal: Victor Povzner of Canada, Daniel Resprepo Garcia of Colombia and two Australians, and one them, the most experienced one, managed to succeed. Step by step, he was climbing up the chart and his overall reached 517.90 points, which was enough to finish on third.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

“I had no definite expectations laid on this event, but I definitely wanted to be in the top 3, - commented on his another podium presence the lucky Australian. – This is my last Junior Worlds, and I very much wished it to become unforgettable. I had two medals from Kazan, and now this is my second piece earned in Kyiv. I am overexcited and can not analyse the program and mistakes I had some”.

As for the others, they turned out not to be competitive and stood as far as 10 points behind the podium. Victor Povzner of Canada placed lowly 8th. He was overtaken by teammate McKay Henry, which stopped on the 4th place, as Daniel Restrepo Garcia of Columbia landed on fifth, scoring 507.65 and 500.75 respectively.

BOYS B PLATFORM

14-years old Yao Zelin of China took golden relay button from his compatriots Wang, Lai Shiyun and Liu Jialing en route to the Boys B platform champion’s title.

He made his best to ensure that successful traditions of his country held on this discipline and confidently won "the race" collecting 481.85 points overall.

Second heading into the final round, he was ahead of the chart all the way through to the final attempt, where his eventual gold could have been contested by a compatriot Wang Zewei. Leader of the prelims and the author of the day's best (82.50 on 207C in the morning session), he fought till the very end and never gave up intention to win. Posting an impressive 5253B by the close of the competition, he summoned 81.60 points to come as close as 0.45 points to the champion.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

“My coach told me not to concentrate on placements, but to do the dives, one by one, which proved out to be a good strategy, - said Yao Zelin. – However I am sure there is much room for improvement. All of my dives were not perfect. My teammate almost reached me in the ultimate round of the final, which showed that he was also well ready to win”.

“I congratulate my teammate with the win, it is a pleasure to see two of us at the podium, but I feel a little disappointed with my performance. I strived to win gold. I finished atop of the qualification, and I was to dive the last in the final, which was psychologically not easy”.

Russia was the third nation on the podium. Maksim Malofeev showed a steady list and consistent dives, and finished on the personal best of the season, 467.85 points. The medal was a plan, he confessed afterwards, as he believed, that its color could be somewhat better.

“I had been training very hard during the training camps in Russia and here in Kyiv, where we arrived ahead of schedule to get used to the swimming-pool and diving facilities, - said the diver. - I loved diving here, and I am grateful to the public for the support, it is very loud. This is my first international win, and I will be working on hard to book other wins”.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

Interesting to note, but the Boys B Platform event turned out to be the only balanced contest, registering no major faults of competitors. Almost all entries were good, and as the final progressed, young men kept on improving and gave no way for their emotions and nerves.

After 5 busy competition days, in the overall chart of the 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships there are a few changes. China keeps on dominating with 8 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze medal. USA rests on 2 silvers, and Australia managed to improve on their record to 3 bronze pieces. The number of the medal winning nations reached 11 as Romania impressed everyone by their bronze once in a quarter-century period. Competition day 6 will play out 2 sets of medals in the Boys B 3m springboard and Girls A platform, which will also be a run on the 2018 YOG quotas.

Photo: credit to Pavlo Kubanov

 

Competition results. 22nd FINA World Junior Diving Championships. Day 5

Boys A 1m springboard

1. Wang Zongyuan (CHN) 557.65, 2. Li Zheng (CHN) 526.85, 3. Carter Matthews (AUS) 517.90, 4. McKay Henry (CAN) 507.65, 5. Restrepo Garcia Daniel (COL) 500.75, 6. Uribe Bermudez Luis Felipe (COL) 489.85, 7. Semianiuk Ivan (BLR) 489.85, 8. Povzner Victor (CAN) 485.90, 9. Harding Anthony (GBR) 479.45, 10. Gomez Ortega Daniel Fabian (MEX) 440.55, 11. Bonfim dos Santos Moura Luis Felipe (BRA) 433.40, 12. Yost Lyle (USA) 418.40.

Boys B platform

1. Yao Zelin (CHN) 481.85, 2. Wang Zewei (CHN) 481.40, 3. Malofeev Maksim (RUS) 467.85, 4. Zsombor-Murray Nathan (CAN) 441.40, 5. Munoz Heredia Kevin Alexander (MEX) 441.20, 6. Weinrich Max (USA), 7. Cutmore Ben (GBR) 433.20, 8. Sakata Jio (JPN) 410.35, 9. Fofana Cedric (CAN) 396.25, 10. Turkov Andrey (RUS) 353.85, 11. Antoniv Anton (UKR) 343.65, 12. Giovannini Riccardo (ITA) 330.40

Girls A&B platform synchronised

1. Lai Shiyun/Liu Jialing (CHN) 314.88, 2. Banks Phoebe/Martin Emily (GBR) 278.79, 3. Muscalu Nicoleta-Angelica/Pavel Antonia-Mihaela (ROM) 265.44, 4. Neroni Elettra/Biginelli Maia (ITA) 260.46, 5. Hains Nikita/Keating Annarose (AUS) 250.92, 6. Holloway Johanna/McAfee Sophia (USA) 250.38, 7. Lopez Arevalo Valentina/Vazquesz Montano Aranza (MEX) 249.96, 8. Shurda Nika/Sverchkova (UKR) 242.40, 9. Kupka Caroline/Tuxen Helle (NOR) 231.00.