Daley close to perfection, Cagnotto makes it 20
Tom Daleyâ€™s outstanding performance highlighted the last day of diving action in the London Aquatics Centre. The Briton won the 10m platform with a 570-point overall score, which is higher than what was required here to clinch the Olympic title four years ago. Italyâ€™s Tania Cagnotto added another historic chapter to her illustrious career by becoming the first athlete to reach the 20-gold barrier in the European Aquatics Championships. It was also their 8th win in the 3m synchro with Francesca Dallape. What a way to celebrate her 31st birthday.
It was the Olympic year, 2008, and the European Aquatics Championships in Eindhoven. A 13-year old kid, Tom Daley, was placed 6th after three rounds but then, all of a sudden, jaws dropped. Two dives followed, and four 10s flashed on the scoreboard. After both dives. No one could believe their eyes but the tiny British boy was crowned European champion. A year later his feat was validated by the world title he added to his tally. Since then Tom Daley has been a trademark name in the diving world and a real sensation whenever a platform event is held.
In fact, he had some ups and downs â€“ however strange it may sound in the case of a diver â€“ but in recent years he cemented his place among the best. He was third here in London at the Olympics and also in Kazan at the 2015 World Champs. Each time he was the highest ranked European. And today he delivered what the capacity crowd wanted to see while filling almost all seats even alongside the adjacent swimming pool.
Daley had one bad attempt in the prelims, still he was first with a 36.90-point margin ahead of Russiaâ€™s Viktor Minibaev. In the final his performance neared perfection. Back in 2008 he had amassed 491.95 points. In Rome 2009 he won with 539.85. Four years ago in London he had 556.95, David Boudia, the US champion, got 568.65. Now Daley had 570.50.
Among the 42 marks he got from the judges here, 8.0 was the lowest, he got two for his fourth dive. All the others were at least 8.5, but even more 9.0s, 9.5s and the perfect 10 three times. The opening, low DD dive was worth 83.20, not one of the remaining dives brought him fewer than 96 points.
He had the answer to Minibaevâ€™s challenge. The Russian also staged a strong start, just like Daley, he barely got marks weaker than 8.5, he got a 10 for his first attempt, led after two rounds but the gap opened up in the fourth when he produced a relatively weaker 77.40 pointer. In other meets it wouldnâ€™t have meant the end of a duel but as Daley was close to perfection, this ended the Russiansâ€™ golden quest. This was Daleyâ€™s third European crown in the individual platform event â€“ which has become a tradition in the Europeans held in Olympic years (2008, 2012, 2016). The bronze went to the other Russian competitor, Nikita Shleikher, who edged out Germanyâ€™s veteran Sascha Klein by 2.80 points.
The closing event saw another milestone in European diving history as Tania Cagnotto clinched her 20th title in the continental event, as well as becoming champion for the 8th time in 3m synchro with Francesca Dallape â€“ a stylish way to celebrate her 31st birthday. It was a clean job from the Italians. They opened up with a great dive, followed by a perfect one â€“ a 10 came for synchronisation â€“ and even a couple of good though not really excellent attempts were enough to secure the top spot.
The local fans were delighted by the performance of Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree. The Brits did a fine job and as the Russians committed a slight mistake in the fourth they grabbed the chance and finished second, while Nadezhda Bazhina and Kristina Ilinykh had to settle for the bronze this time.
The closing dayâ€™s performance was also a great kicker for the Brits in clinching the Championship Trophy ahead of the Russians and they also finished atop the medal table with 10 podium finishes (3-4-3).
At the end of the ceremonies LEN President Paolo Barelli presented the 2015 LEN Trophy for the respective diving winners, Tania Cagnotto and Tom Daley, as a recognition for the achievements last season. Though based on their results here â€“ Tania got 3 golds and silver, Tom 2 golds and a silver â€“ they are already on their way to collecting these trophies for this yearâ€™s feats.
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Press release from LEN, photos courtesy of Deepbluemedia