Belgrade 2024: Elna Widerstrom shocked by 1m Spirngboard title and Spain claim second diving gold

Credit to: European Aquatics

Sweden’s Elna Widerstrom took the Women’s 1m Springboard European gold on an electric day two of diving action at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024, on a night where Spain added another gold medal to their tally in the Mixed 10m Synchro.

In a competition which saw the medal places change hands after almost every round, those in attendance at the Serbian Institute of Sport and Sports Medicine were treated to what will surely be one of the most entertaining finals of the week.

Coming out strongly in that Women’s 1m Springboard event was Netherlands’ Lize van Leeuwen, who went for a 2.6 difficulty Forward 2 ½ Somersaults Pike (105B) for her first dive; a bold choice which saw her reap the rewards, scoring 54.60 points and taking the top spot after round one.

The Dutch athlete managed to hold on to her position after the second round with another solid dive, but it was on the third round where Widerstrom made her move – executing a spectacular Reverse 1 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twists Free (5333D) to inherit the top spot with a score of 55.90 and a total of 146.55 with two rounds to go.

A similarly impressive Inward 1 ½ Somersaults Pike (403B) gave her 53.30 points and stood her in good stead following the penultimate round, before she secured gold with a cool and composed Inward 1 ½ Somersaults Pike (403B) to take victory with a total score of 250.25.

Poland’s Aleksandra Blazowska put in an impressive fightback, from ninth in round 2 to take silver when all five rounds were over, with her Forward 2 ½ Somersaults Pike (105B) on round 4 being the pick of the lot for her – contributing to her final score of 231.25.

The bronze medal went to Widerstrom’s compatriot Emilia Nilsson Garip, who recovered from a drop on her first dive to take a comfortable third place on the podium.

Credit to: European Aquatics

“I literally had no expectations at all, so I’m really happy to have even medalled,” said Widerstrom.

“Last year I didn’t even qualify for the finals at 1m, so I’m happy to be here and have the gold medal.”

Despite being one of the favourites for the gold before the competition, Garip still had some good words to say about her performance in a competitive field.

“I just wanted to be done, it’s been so emotional, and everything has happened in this competition. I just needed to do a good dive.

“I was hoping to win the gold, but I haven’t really trained 1m because I’m going to the Olympics at 3m so it’s not too bad.”

Before that event, though, was the final of the Mixed 10m Synchro. With four nations opting to compete in the event, including some athletes who took medals in the Team Event yesterday, there was a plethora of high-quality diving on show.

The first two of the five rounds were the pairs’ required dives, with most going through without a hitch.

Credit to: European Aquatics

The Spanish pairing of Carlos Camacho del Hoyo and Valeria Angelina Antolino Pacheco took an early lead with a score of 93.60 with three rounds to go.

Every pair then opted to increase the difficulty of their dives on round three which saw gaps starting to open up. Spain extended their lead with a superb Forward 3 ½ Somersaults Pike (107B) – scoring 65.70 and creating a gap of ten points to their nearest competitor, Germany.

The best dive of the penultimate round came from the Ukrainian pairing of Marko Barsukov and Kseniia Bailo, as they leapfrogged the Germans into second place, courtesy of their Back 2 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twists Pike (5253B). The 3.2 degree of difficulty proved fruitful for them, as they held it together to score 61.44 and stay within a shout of the gold medal with one round to go.

In the end, it was Spain who held it together to take the gold medal. They did more than enough in their Back 2 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twists Pike (5253B) to clock out with an eight-point lead over silver medallists Germany, who also produced their best dive of the event to take back that second spot from Ukraine, who took bronze.

The Romanian pairing of Alexandru Avasiloae and Amelie-Enya Foerster finished in fourth with a spirited showing through the rounds.

Speaking for the Spanish team, Carlos was beaming with excitement at his achievement, following gold in the Team Event on Monday.

“Unbelievable,” said Camacho del Hoyo. “I’m very happy. It’s my second gold in the Championships and I can’t believe this moment, it’s amazing.”

“I enjoy the mixed element a lot. It’s a gold medal and it’s one more experience. When the competition was finished, I was nervous because I know we can win the event, but we are always contemplating the nerves.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Germany’s Coordes also took a bronze medal on Monday, and she spoke in a similar way of how it helped her calm down ahead of Tuesday’s event, as well as how it was diving with a male athlete.

“Winning a bronze medal yesterday helped me relax for today, but I was still quite nervous.

“Diving with a man is a little bit different to when I dive with a girl, but with Tom it’s pretty easy because he adapts easily to what I’m trying to do.”

Bailo of Ukraine spoke candidly about what the bronze medal means to her, with her family still in Ukraine.

“Preparations have been so hard,” said Bailo. “Because the war in Ukraine isn’t stopping, every day we have an alarm alert. They’ve shelled every city in Ukraine, and they do it every day.

“So, when I’m in another country, I feel good but my family aren’t safe, which puts a strain on my mental health.”

“I contact them regularly via video call, so it’s okay. It’s so important that I perform well because it’s so important for my country. I do what I can for the soldiers in Ukraine, so my medal today is for them.”

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