Saturday, August 11, 2018

Amazing Grace grabs Gold on final dive to win European 3m springboard crown

Grace Reid produced an amazing final dive to raise the roof off the Royal Commonwealth Pool, as she became European Champion in the Women's 3m springboard for the first time in dramatic fashion.

The Scot leapfrogged British teammate Alicia Blagg to take the Gold medal, an improvement on the Bronze she won in the same event in London two years ago.

Reid needed a score of 71.90 or more to have a chance at winning the title ahead of her compatriot, who sat in first place on 327.70 points, 3.05 points ahead of Germany's Tina Punzel.

But she went into the final round full of confidence after a strong 74.40 on her penultimate dive (a forward 2 1/2 somersaults piked) and pulled out all the stops, posting a 73.50 for her forward 2 1/2 somersaults with twist, to which she reacted by clutching her face in a mix of amazement and shock as her final score of 329.40 confirmed her historic victory.

Reid floated between third and fifth for most of the final, and said she had to remain confident that her final two dives would eventually make the difference.

She said: "I was feeling the pressure but I started off well, maybe not as well as I would've liked but I knew those last two dives would be solid for me.

"So I said to myself 'Give it everything, no medals are won when you play it safe.'" And that mentality paid off as she pipped Blagg to the Gold medal by fewer than two points.

Russia's Mariia Poliakova, who qualified in first place, led after the first round with a 72.00 on her dive (a forward 2 1/2 somersaults with twist piked), and up until the last dive it was Blagg who led every round, followed closely by Punzel.

Reid used the home crowd to her advantage and revealed that she never feared buckling under the pressure as she previously may have done in a similar situation.

She said: "In the past I would've been daunted by this and I think the pressure would've definitely affected me and made me more nervous.

"But this time rather than see it as a pressure I saw it as an asset, and you know that home crowd had everyone rooting for me so I tried to let that help me today for sure."

When asked where this ranked in terms of her other career achievements, Reid said: "Oh, that's a tough one. It's definitely up there. It's definitely had that sort of special element, it's been in my home pool, seeing friends and family, seeing signs from my university friends saying 'Go Grace', it really lifted me."

After the preliminary round, Reid commented that in the two-day gap in competition she felt her training was "all over the place". Following her victory here she said: "I think it just shows that you can have really bad training beforehand but it doesn't matter, once you got on that board for the competition you have five dives to do and what's happened before doesn't matter.

"Whether it was fantastic or dreadful, you're there in the moment and that's what I focused on today."

Blagg said that despite being on top almost every round she wasn't looking at the leaderboard, but for the brief moment when the screen flashed up following her final dive when she moved into the Gold medal position.

She said: "I didn’t follow the standings, I only saw my points and it was a huge moment when I realised at the end that I’m the second. We were quite close with Grace, but I’m very happy with the silver.”

The British one-two moves the home team to the top of the medal table for the diving events at Glasgow 2018, with ten. And that tally can be improved tomorrow as Reid and Kat Torrance compete in the Women's 3m synchronised springboard final, while Matthew Lee and Matthew Dixon have their eyes on the Men's 10m platform.