Iris Schmidbauer of Germany claimed the first-ever European High Diving 20m title following a breath-taking final day of the women’s competition at the Foro Italico in Rome.
The women’s event began on Thursday with the two opening rounds, after which Italy’s Elisa Cosetti held a slender lead over Schmidbauer and German team-mate Anna Bader.
24 hours later a capacity crowd packed into the venue and created a brilliant atmosphere for the women who duly delivered two further exhilarating rounds.
The eight finalists wowed the audience and it was Ukraine’s Antonia Vyshyvanova who made the biggest improvements. Her final routine scored a stunning 94.35 and that saw her rise from fourth to take silver.
Cosetti admitted her “legs were trembling” as she took to the edge of the platform in the final round and although a score of 57 was below her best, it was still enough to secure a place on the podium.
Schmidbauer was inspired to take up high diving after watching the sport during its Fina World Championships debut at Barcelona 2013.
The 27-year-old has competed on the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series in recent years and those experiences prepared her well for the pressure she felt heading into the final round.
She delivered a brilliant dive which scored 90.30 and secured her the sport’s first-ever European Championship gold medal with a total of 309.30 from the four rounds.
“It’s insane,” Schmidbauer admitted to LEN TV. “I was hoping for a medal, I mean, who doesn’t want to make history at the all-time first European Championship?
“I also find it really cool that it was eight of us, from so many different countries. It’s good to see more and more women in this discipline and now let’s hope to be at the Olympics in the future!”
Silver medallist Vyshyvanova (295.40) from Ukraine said it was “wonderful” to have the sport in the European Aquatics Championships.
“This pool is amazing, the atmosphere is incredible, so I’m really happy that I can be here. It was a great competition, I’m very happy with the silver medal.”
Cosetti (284.30) was “satisfied” to finish on the podium despite an error on the last dive.
“This is the first medal for Italy in high diving at the Europeans and yes I was ranked first until the last dive, but it is still OK because I truly gave everything I had in me today.”
Selection for the European Championships for the first time is seen as a “huge” step in what is the ultimate goal for many athletes – selection for the Olympic Games.