Thursday, November 29, 2018

Delight for debut pairings and successful return for Tom Daley

Gemma McArthur and Robyn Birch marked their first competition as a pairing with a gold medal as they took home the Women's Platform Synchro title on the opening night of the Scottish National & Open Diving Championships at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.

The duo posted a total score of 256.95 and McArthur, competing in her home pool, was happy with the overall performance.

She said: "It was a really good performance because we haven't trained much together, so it was nice to see who our dives actually turned out in competition.

"The competition environment here always makes it a really good place to dive as well."

Birch too has experience diving at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, having finished sixth in the final of the Platform event at the 2018 European Championships earlier this year.

She said: "I always love the pool here, the surroundings are so good and it's a great place to compete."

Birch also told how she and McArthur plan to continue to work together. "We've already arranged a mini training camp with just us two where I'll come up to Edinburgh and spend a couple of days training together and getting plenty more synchro practice in."

McArthur and Birch finished ahead of Ellen Gillespie and Libby Duke (Edinburgh) and Frances Burdett and Maria Marasescue (Plymouth).

Also among the medals on a debut appearance were James Heatly and Yona Knight-Wisdom, who topped the standings of the Men's 3m Synchro event. A final score of 371.19 put them well clear of Frankie Curtis and Joseph Pashley (City of Sheffield) who won silver with Angus Menmuir and Danny Mabbott (Edinburgh) taking bronze. 

Knight-Wisdom competes internationally for Jamaica and only recently moved to Edinburgh from Leeds, and therefore has only started training with Heatly in the last few weeks.

Knight-Wisdom said: "It's been a big change. I was in Leeds for 14 years it pretty much created all that I am now, so to leave that behind was a huge change for my life not just my diving career.

"But it's been a good change so far and I'm really happy to be training alongside James and working with Jenny [Leeming] and hopefully we can just keep working hard and having fun."

For Heatly, sharing the podium with younger members of Edinburgh Diving Club like Danny Mabbott and Angus Menmuir, who he watched come through the ranks, is a bit of a surreal experience. He admits he's also just starting to get used to his high profile as a Commonwealth and European medallist.

He said: "It's amazing to see how the [Edinburgh Diving Club] programme has grown and it's weird being one of the old ones here in general. I used to be thought of as one of the young ones so yeah, it's strange."

Tom Daley, back from an extended lay-off from the sport following the birth of his son Robbie, made the top step on the first night alongside dive partner Matty Lee in the Men's Platform Synchro event. 

It was an all-English line-up and Daley and Lee went into the event as favourites and beat Dive London teammates Kyle Kothari and Noah Williams, with a score of 391.29 to 370.59. Brandon Foster and Owen Harrison (Southampton Diving Academy and City of Sheffield Diving Club) took the final medal.

Earlier on, Scarlett Mew Jensen and Maria Papworth Burrel from Dive London won the first event, taking top spot in the Women's 3m Synchro. A score of 259.32 saw them claim the Open title with Mhairi Goodwin and Caitlyn Lumsden (Edinburgh) winning the National honours.