Ukraine claimed the first diving gold medal of the 2023 European Championships with victory in the Mixed Team Event 3m / 10m competition at the European Games in Poland.
Their line-up was headlined by reigning European 10m champion Oleksii Sereda, but also featured previous individual medal-winners Kseniia Bailo and Anna Pysmenska, as well as Danylo Konovalov, who helped Ukraine to Team Event silver in 2022.
They combined to attain an overall score of 438.30 from six rounds.
“I have to say today not only about sports, but also about the war because this one is going on in my homeland,” said Sereda after collecting the gold medal.
“It’s really hard to train in Ukraine, because every now and then we have anti-aircraft alerts. It’s really difficult to train with the knowledge that you might have to go down to the shelter right away.
“Of course, now we are happy that we won here. Now I feel pride. I’m proud to represent Ukraine because my country is strong, my compatriots are strong.”
Ukraine impressively held off the challenge of defending champions Italy. They achieved a total of 398.25 with the same line-up who claimed gold in their home city, Rome, last year.
“Yes, it’s a really good start for me and the team,” stated Pellicani. “However, our goal was not really a silver medal.”
Spain’s total of 381.45 saw their quintet take bronze.
It was the best result for any Spanish divers since 2010, the last time the nation stood on a European podium when Javier Illana also secured bronze in the men’s 1m springboard.
“I’m very happy and proud, because this is the first time we’ll go to Spain with a medal,” said Alberto Arevalo Alcon.
The Team Event, which sees three-four divers from each nation combine to form a team, requires athletes to perform six routines from across the 3m springboard and 10m platform disciplines.
Those individual scores are then combined to determine the overall standings.
Italy, whose line up of Chiara Pellacani, Lorenzo Marsaglai, Sarah Jodoin Di Maria and Eduard Timbretti Gugiu claimed the European title last year, were the favourites for further success.
As expected they led after the opening round, with Pellacani – who won five medals at Roma 2022 – particularly impressive.
From the second round onwards though it was Ukraine who soared to the summit of the rankings – a place they would maintain throughout the remaining five rounds.
Despite slipping to third midway through the standings, as Germany rose into contention, Italy fought back to second.
Divers Valeria Antolino Pacheco, Alberto Arevalo Alcon, Rocio Velazquez Roldan and Carlos Camacho Del Hoyo produced the best Spanish performance for a generation to secure the final podium position.
Day two of the diving competition will feature the women’s 10m platform event, with the winner claiming a berth for the nation at the Paris 2024 Games.
The other final is the mixed synchronised 3m springboard which was won by Germany at last year’s European Championships in Italy.
FULL MIXED TEAM EVENT 3M/10M RESULTS:
1 – UKRAINE – 438.30
2 – ITALY – 398.25
3 – SPAIN – 381.45
4 – GERMANY – 377.10
5 – FRANCE – 341.60
6 – NORWAY – 303.80
7 – GREAT BRITAIN – 2395
8 – ARMENIA – 215.85
9 – GREECE – 155.25
By Nick Hope – LEN Aquatics correspondent in Poland