Italy’s Chiara Pellacani won the women’s 3m springboard European title – and claimed a place in the event for her nation at next year’s Olympics – with victory at the European Games in Rzeszów, Poland.
The 2022 European champion achieved a total score of 321.45 points for her five routines to finish ahead of Swedish diver Emilia Nilsson Garip (316.60) and Michelle Heimberg (306.70) of Switzerland.
Earlier on the fourth day of diving at Kraków-Malopolska 2023, Ukrainian duo Oleksii Sereda and Krill Boliukh combined to claim gold in the men’s synchronised 10m platform final.
They achieved a total of 398.70 from their six dives to finish ahead of Italian’s Riccardo Giovannini and Eduard Timbretti Gugiu (388.83) as well as Great Britain’s Matt Dixon and Ben Cutmore (372.69), who took silver and bronze respectively.
WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL 3M SPRINGBOARD REVIEW:
Great Britain’s double Olympian and former European champion Grace Reid led the standings after the morning preliminaries and again topped the scoring charts after the opening two rounds in the final.
Errors in the third and fourth rounds ultimately ended her medal bid and it was Heimberg who initially seized the opportunity and she led with one round to go.
Just 2.10 points separated the top three heading into the deciding dives and with the Swiss athlete scoring just 48.00 she would have to settle for bronze.
Sweden’s Nilsson Garip, who claimed mixed 3m springboard bronze 24 hours earlier alongside team-mate Elias Petersen, produced a stunning routine in round three to put herself in contention and a solid final dive secured her second overall.
Italian Pellacani was the defending champion, but after time away from the pool to address mental health challenges the 20-year-old was unsure how she would perform in Poland.
Despite the challenges she has faced the Olympian delivered when it mattered to round off the competition with a solid 63.00 for her inwards 2.5 somersault routine.
That secured Pellacani the victory, European Games, as well as European Championships title and the Olympic place for her nation in the event for the Paris 2024 Games.
WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL 3M SPRINGBOARD REACTION:
GOLD – CHIARA PELLACANI – ITALY
“I think this medal means the world to me because in the past few months I’ve struggled a lot with my mental health and I had some rest from diving because it was really hard, so it’s just amazing and I was competing to get it
SILVER – EMILIA NILSSON GARIP – SWEDEN
“It’s really special, I’ve never got an individual medal (before) so I’m really happy about it. I checked the scoreboard after every dive and I was so nervous but it went good in a way.”
BRONZE – MICHELLE HEIMBERG – SWITZERLAND
“To be honest I feel a bit sad because the last dive wasn’t really good and my goal was to be stable with all the dives, but right now I’m just happy it was still enough for a medal so I’m looking forward to the 1m so I can give all I have again.”
MEN’S SYNCHRONISED 10M PLATFORM REVIEW
Ukraine held a slender lead of 4.20 points from France after the two rounds of lower-scoring required technical dives.
From there the competition really began to intensify as divers ramped their ‘degree of difficulty’ in the four rounds of optional dives.
France, whose line-up included former British high diving world champion Gary Hunt, could not maintain their medal-push and an error in the third round saw them slip out of contention.
Great Britain, who through Cutmore and his previous diving partner Kyle Kothari, claimed the 2022 European title and now alongside Dixon the nation again looked to be the most likely to challenge Ukraine for the title.
They led heading into the final round after a series of impressive routines combined with a rare Ukrainian mistake, but a score of just 54.39 saw them tumble down the rankings and ultimately finish with bronze.
Italy meanwhile recovered from a slow start – after placing sixth after rounds one and two, then fifth at the halfway stage – timing their podium attack to perfection to secure silver.
Ukraine saved their best until last and the ‘dive of the day’ for their ‘back 2.5 somersault, 2.5 twists’ routine scored 83.16.
MEN’S SYNCHRONISED 10M PLATFORM REACTION
GOLD – OLEKSII SEREDA – UKRAINE
“For me it’s special as it’s our first gold medal in synchro, in the previous Europeans were second and we managed to win this competition so that’s why we’re really, really happy. We are proud to represent our country and we are proud to win this competition for Ukraine because it is a really huge achievement.”
SILVER – RICCARDO GIOVANNINI – ITALY
“I’m very happy because it’s the first competition together and it’s unexpected this medal, so I’m very happy with that.”
SILVER – EDUARD TIMBRETTI GUGIU – ITALY
“We are very proud and we did not expect this as we didn’t train much so it was really fun and we felt the competition was a great competition so we’re very happy.”
BRONZE – BEN CUTMORE – GREAT BRITAIN
“We were told we were going to do it (compete together) two weeks before we came out here (to the European Games) and then had two training sessions beforehand, one here and once before the competition today, so a maximum of four times so to be able to put all of those dives together is really impressive and we’re delighted.”
BRONZE – MATTHEW DIXON – GREAT BRITAIN
“It means loads, it’s our first ever competition together we haven’t done much training, we just tried it for the first time and a bronze medal, what can you say – it’s great!”
BY NICK HOPE – AQUATICS CORRESPONDENT IN POLAND.