All smiles as Laugher wins diving title

GOLD COAST, Australia: England’s Jack Laugher gave a dominant performance to retain his Commonwealth Games one-metre springboard title on the Gold Coast on Wednesday. Elsewhere, Olympic silver medallists Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong led Malaysia to three medals on the opening day of the diving with victory in the 10-metre synchro.
The 23-year-old Laugher, a Rio Olympic silver medallist on the three-metre board, led throughout the six rounds to tally 438.00 points and win gold with some ease.
Australia’s James Connor took silver with 412.45 points.
Scotland’s James Heatly finished with bronze on 399.25 points to become his country’s first Commonwealth diving medallist since his late grandfather Peter Heatly won gold at the 1958 Cardiff Games.
“It was difficult to come here as the defending champion,” said Laugher.
“I really knuckled down, got focused — everything went fantastically and I am very proud of what I did,” he said.
Laugher’s top-scoring dives were 76.50 for an inward 2½ somersaults and his lead-off back 2½ somersaults dive which netted 75.00 from the judges.
“My entries were a little bit shaky,” said Laugher, who will bid for second gold medal in Thursday’s three-metre springboard.
“I put that down to a little bit of nerves, trying to defend the title — also being outdoors, all those different pressures. But I’m really happy with my overall performance.”
It is Laugher’s third Commonwealth Games title since his debut at the age of 15 when he competed in Delhi in 2010.
Laugher went on to win two gold medals and a silver at Glasgow 2014 before joining forces with Chris Mears to win Britain’s first-ever Olympic diving gold medal in Rio where they won the three-metre synchro competition.
Pandelela and Cheong were clinical in winning the 10-metre synchro with 328.08 points from Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay with fellow Malaysians Mun Yee Leong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri taking the bronze.
Leong and Sabri also made the podium in the three-metre synchro springboard earlier on Wednesday.
Pandelela and Cheong led all five rounds and never wavered, posting scores of 70.20, 76.80 and 74.88 for their final three dives.
Esther Qin and Georgia Sheehan snatched gold in the women’s three-metre synchro after a fellow Aussie pair crashed from first place to last with a botched final dive.
Leaders Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith bombed out after a disastrous attempt at a forward 2½ somersaults with two twists scuttled their medal hopes.
A tearful Keeney, who lost control of her dive in windy conditions at the outdoor pool, put a brave face on the mishap.
“It was all over the shop,” said the one-metre world champion.
“Obviously I don’t think anyone can say they dived well, but we’ve come out the other end. It was a tough day.” — AFP