Monday, August 6, 2018

Heatly and Birch claim fourth in Mixed Team final

"We knew it was going to be a tight competition. We had a few mistakes here and there but we're still really happy I'd say." James Heatly

James Heatly and Robyn Birch narrowly missed out on a medal on the opening day of diving competition of Glasgow 2018, finishing in fourth place in the Mixed Team Event at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

The British pair posted a total score of 343.15, well clear of fifth place and only 6.50 behind the Bronze medal position. Ukraine, last year's runners-up, took the Gold medal while Germany and Russia rounded out the podium places.

With such a strong field the British duo knew it was going to be hard work to achieve a medal. Scot Heatly said: "We knew it was going to be a tight competition. We had a few mistakes here and there but we're still really happy I'd say.

"The team event is a fairly new event so we were both focusing more on our other events so this was kind of a nice little warm-up for us to get ready for events coming up."

Heatly opened with a reverse dive piked, from the 10m platform, achieving a solid set of marks from the judges of 8.0 and above to score 50.00. Birch followed this with a back dive piked from the 3m springboard, scoring 41.00 to bring the Brits' score after the first round of dives to 91.00, good enough for third position.

A less impressive second set of dives (inward 3 1/2 somersaults with tuck for Heatly, forward 3 1/2 somersaults piked for Birch) left the pair in sixth, but such was the tight nature of the competition that they were only an 8.00 point swing from the silver medal position.

The duo's most difficult set of dives, a reverse 1 1/2 somersaults with 3 1/2 twists for Heatly and an armstand back 2 somersaults with 1 1/2 twists for Birch, brought them back into medal contention but with the Germans and Ukrainians still to dive it was always going to be a tough ask to stay in the podium places.

The Russian pair had led by quite a margin after the first two rounds but a superb final effort from the German duo catapulted them into the Gold medal position, before they were then leapfrogged by the Ukranians, who performed the most difficult pair of dives for the day in admirable fashion to finish on 355.90 and take the European title.

Heatly also paid tribute to the home crowd, and touched on the fact that despite their relatively late selection for this event, the relationship between himself and Birch enabled them to perform at a high level and bodes well for the future.

He said:"It was really exciting, it was really good in front of a home crowd so to get the first event done it's now looking forward to the next events.

"If we get to do [the Mixed Team event] again it would be great, Robyn and I are not only great teammates but great friends too and the team event is a pretty fun event to do."

Heatly is due to compete in the Men's 1m springboard on Tuesday 7 August (alongside fellow Brits Jack Laugher and Dan Goodfellow), and said: "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, I'm feeling confident now that I've got a few dives off so tomorrow sould be good."

Birch meanwhile is slotted to compete in the Women's 10m platform on Wednesday 8 August.