Auffret takes platform crown to France for the first time in history
Kiev (LEN) â€“ What a finish: just as they had started on the first competition day, the 2017 European Diving Championships in Kiev also ended with a French triumph. Showing a great performance honoured by the judges with high scores and a total of 511.75 points, Benjamin Auffret not only crowned himself as the â€œplatform king of Kievâ€ and won his first European title, but achieved the first ever platform gold in history. After a close fight Russiaâ€™s Viktor Minibev earned silver with 493.25 points, the bronze medal went to Briton Matthew Lee (485.55). The other title on offer on the last day landed in Russia, thanks to Nadezhda Bazhina and Kristina Ilinykh who earned a clear win in the womenâ€™s 3m synchro event.
â€œI donâ€™t know what to say. I competed really well today and Iâ€™m definitely in a good mood for the World Championships now,â€ French king of platform Auffret said. â€œPerhaps it was an advantage for me today that during the week I didnâ€™t have to compete in as many competitions as my opponents.â€
In the womenâ€™s 3m synchronised event Russiaâ€™s Nadezhda Bazhina and Kristina Ilinykh became undisputed new champions, after the reign of eight-time winners Tania-Cagnotto-Francesca DallapÃ¨ (Italy) had come to an end as both retired. The Russian duo earned a total of 304.80 points and built a huge 20-point gap ahead of the rest. After a tough battle for the remaining medals Germanyâ€™s Tina Punzel with new partner Friederike Freyer won silver (284.10). Only 0.30 points apart, Dutch Inge Jansen and Daphne Wils (283.80) followed ranked third, relegating Great Britainâ€™s Katherine Torrence and Grace Reid (283.50) by another 0.30 points to the fourth place. It was the first ever medal in this event for the Netherlands.
â€œFrom my point of view this was a well-deserved gold medal today. We have worked hard to make this happen,â€ Russiaâ€™s Bazhina said and partner Kristina Ilinykh added happily: â€œThis was my first ever European gold medal.â€ Germanyâ€™s Tina Punzel felt â€œvery relievedâ€ after the duo finished runner-up. â€œWe didnâ€™t show our best performance today. But, after all, now we have a medal.â€ Inge Jansen was positively surprised how fast the new partnership with Daphne Wils paid off. â€œAfter just three months of diving together, itâ€™s amazing that we could win a medal here in Kiev.â€
Host Ukraine (244 points) won the â€œChampionships Trophyâ€ ahead of Russia (242) and Germany (185). In the medal table Russia came first with three gold, six silver and two bronze, ahead of Ukraine (3-4-3) and Great Britain (3-0-3). Altogether eight of the participating 23 nations clinched medals, among them Switzerland with their first ever podium finish in the history of European Diving Championships.
The City of Kiev and the Ukrainian Diving Federation celebrated great championships at the LIKO Sports Center. The capital of Ukraine hosted an elite European Championships for the first time. â€œThese Europeans here in Kiev were a promotion for divingâ€, LEN Vice-President Andriy Vlaskov summed up the week. â€œWe had sold-out days in succession, the audience was thrilled, the athletes were happy. This was certainly one of the best European Championships ever.â€ Earlier this week Kievâ€™s mayor and former World Champion in boxing, Vitaly Klichko concluded: â€œMy mission as mayor is to host as many sports and cultural events as we can. It is a great chance to promote the city.â€
The next diving continental showcase will be staged from August 6-12, 2018 at the â€œRoyal Commonwealth Poolâ€ in Edinburgh (GBR) as part of the grand European Aquatics Championships.
Medal table (after 13 of 13 competitions)
Press release from LEN, images courtesy of Deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala