Russia enjoyed a fine afternoon, claiming both titles on offer on the fifth day of the European Diving Championships. Evgeny Kuznetsov was superior in the 3m final and clinched gold for the second time after 2016, ahead of Patrick Hausding who stood on the podium for the third time in Kyiv. The mixed 10m synchro also saw a Russian triumph, Ekaterina Beliaeva and Viktor Minibaev dominated the whole final from the beginning.
Medallists, Day 5
Men’s 3m springboard: 1. Evgeny Kuznetsov (RUS) 499.45, 2. Patrick Hausding (GER) 456.85, 3. Patrick Heatly (GBR) 439.90
Mixed 10m synchro: 1. Ekaterina Beliaeva, Viktor Minibaev (RUS) 320.70, 2. Eden Cheng, Noah Williams (GBR) 303.60, 3. Florian Fandler, Christina Wassen (GER) 287.76
Whenever Evgeny Kuznetsov gets into the ‘zone’, there is hardly anyone who can match him – perhaps the Chinese, Jack Laugher, or Patrick Hausding at his best. But the first three were not present, while the German legend was a bit off his peak, so there was no one who could prevent the Russian ace from claiming the title again after 2016.
Three weeks ago it was a bit different, at the Worlds he missed his second dive, then a bit fell apart and slipped back to the 10th place, finishing with 434.55 points. Today it was a different story, no mistake, only 7.5s and higher, five balanced attempts (all around 80 points) – those gave him a massive lead before the last round where he came up with the best dive of the entire meet so far, 4 and half somersaults for 100.70 points. He was just 0.55p shy of the 500-point barrier at the end, to highlight the difference between his current form and the one at the Worlds.
The others could barely keep him under pressure. In fact experience was the key for succeeding: Patrick Hausding started climbing up the ranks after the opening dive had put him to the 11th place. He regrouped himself quickly and produced five fine jumps, all around 80 and with each of his young rivals missing the dives here and there, he ended up with a silver around his neck. It was his third podium here after two golds in the team and the 1m events (updating his all-time count: it’s medal No. 32 at the Europeans).
The bronze went to James Heatly who proved that there was life for the Brits in this event even if Laugher was away. His 4.5 somersaults were also a beauty to watch in the fourth round, the second best effort of the evening (91.20), which brought him as close as 8 points to Kuznetsov, but he lost his edge for the last two rounds and had to settle for the third place.
The mixed platform event brought less excitements this time: all five pairs performed the same programmes, only the order of the dives were different – and of course their qualities too. Ekaterina Beliaeva and Viktor Minibaev were a cut above the rest, led from the beginning with no marks below 7.5. They received the highest scores in each round, including two 70+ pointers at the end, the two best efforts in the afternoon.
Britain’s newly formed duo of Eden Cheng and Noah Williams also came up with a solid performance, their fourth dive was just below their level but their silver was never in danger. In the race for the bronze the Germans edged out the Italians by 1.32 points – while Florian Fandler and Christina Wassen had one relatively big mistake but offered four good dives, Noemi Batki and Maicol Verzotto’s three more difficult attempts were all a bit shaky and that made that tiny difference at the end.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Russia, gold, 3m springboard:
“I was worrying a lot before this final but I made it at the end. Some of the favourites were missing from the final, as the Brits so obviously I had better chances to get the gold. I was concentrating pretty much and I’m really happy now to get this gold medal.”
Patrick Hausding, Germany, silver, 3m springboard:
“My first jump was not optimal and that happens more often in recent years, that’s something I have to work on. Still, after that I jumped very constantly, on average, I’ve always been at nearly 80 points per dive. Being judged by my seasonal workload, what I’ve already achieved, also through reaching the level I was able to do now, I can be really happy. I wasn’t close to Kuznetsov today, he made a super series and deserved to win. That should not bother me, I am also very satisfied with silver.
There is one more event to go, I hope that we end up on the podium in the 3m synchro, the colour of the medal is not really important to me. That would be a great end to this European Championship and this season for Lars (Rudiger) and me. After the fourth place at the World Championships, I would like to see him with a medal around his neck tomorrow. Then it’s finally three weeks on vacation!”
James Heatly, Great Britain, bronze, 3m springboard:
“It was good though I felt it was a long event. I was a bit nervous before the final as the World Championships were a big disappointment for me (finished 46th in the prelims). So to come here and get this medal, it’s a very good thing and it makes me very happy. I didn’t watch the results during the competition, I had no idea how close it was at any stage of the final. I knew I dived very well, so I’m quite glad, this is my first medal in this event at the Europeans.”
Viktor Minibaev, Russia, gold, 10m mixed synchro:
“Personally, I’ve made some mistakes, a couple of my dives were not so good. But at least we got the gold medal, so I should be satisfied.”
Noah Williams, Great Britain, silver, 10m mixed synchro:
“It was a very enjoyable event. Because the mixed synchro it neither mine, nor Eden’s main event so we just dived here for fun. It was quick, enjoyable and I liked it. We are very satisfied with this silver since it was the first time we dived together. Before that, both of us worked with different partners, so it was a bit strange at first but it turned out great and we won a medal at the end of the day.”
Florian Fandler, Germany, bronze, 10m mixed synchro:
“Two of my dives were not so good. Had they been better we would have got the silver but we are still happy with the bronze. Our competition is over now, so we are happy to finish these European Championships with a medal.”
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Press release from LEN, photos courtesy of Deepbluemedia / Giorgio Scala