Blagg returns from injury to take National title
City of Leeds’ Alicia Blagg made an impressive return from injury with a gold medal in the women’s 1m Springboard at the British Gas National Cup in Southend.
Blagg, who improved her previous highest score to 274.60 in today’s preliminaries, took to the final with confidence and excelled from the start. She scored 57.60 for her first dive and didn’t look back from there.
She closed the competition with her Reverse 1 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twists in free position to a total of 62.40 and an overall score of 287.25.
“I’m really pleased today,” Blagg said. “I wasn’t expecting anything from it because I’ve just come back from a fractured wrist so I’m over the moon with that performance.
“It was injured at the beginning of September so I’ve not been training properly for about five months and that’s a long time.
“My coach told me to go back in for the experience because it’s my first competition of the whole season. We weren’t really expecting anything from it so to come out with two PBs is amazing.”
Edinburgh Diving’s Grace Reid scored a total of 254.60 to take the silver medal with Francesca Del Celo (Plymouth) winning bronze with a score of 252.70.
The men’s 1m Springboard proved an exciting final with Jack Laugher taking the title after performing an impressive list of dives.
The City of Leeds diver didn’t score below 60 points in any of the rounds and his best dive came in the third round with his Reverse 2 ½ Somersaults tucked which scored him 75.00 points.
His overall score was 445.10 to give the perfect start to his British Gas National Cup campaign.
“I’m really pleased,” Laugher said. “I scored a PB in the morning with my 408 which is four points better than before.
Then in the final I absolutely smashed to score 445. That’s a massive jump up from prelim to final.
“I’ve been feeling really confident for these National Championships and I’m hoping I can jump like that tomorrow in the 3m and get some more good scores.
“Normally I don’t focus on 1m as much and it’s more of a warm-up event but this year in a Commonwealth year I’m going to knuckle down and take it really seriously. Hopefully I can win some medals.”
Southend Diving’s Oliver DIngley won the silver medal with a score of 410.35 while Laugher’s clubmate James Denny secured bronze with 370.70 points.
New pair Rebecca Gallantree and Lois Toulson won their first National Cup title in the women’s 10m Synchro.
The City of Leeds divers performed a list that included two 3.2 tariff dives and saw them score a total of 314.46.
“We’re really pleased to win with that score,” Gallantree said. “We’ve not been doing synchro together for long and this is our first time out together at Nationals so we’re really chuffed.
“We started working together at Leeds at the beginning of the season but they were only little bits. Last month I was out for a while through injury so it’s only been a few weeks together working for this event.
“I started diving with Alicia [Blagg] when she was 12 so Lois is a little bit older but they’re completely different. But it works having a partnership with one experienced and one very talented young diver.”
“It’s really good competing with Becky, really fun,” Toulson added. “I haven’t thought ahead at all. Being at the Commonwealths would be amazing but I’m just going to take things as they come and see what happens.”
The silver medal went to Robyn Birch and Shanice Lobb of Plymouth Diving with a score of 282.60 and Lauren Grinstead and Gemma McArthur (Southampton Diving) took bronze in 258.30.
The men’s 3m Synchro brought the first day of competition to a close but it didn’t disappoint with new pair of James Heatly (Edinburgh Diving) and Sam Thornton (City of Leeds) winning the gold medal.
Heatly and Thornton performed a solid list of dives to take their first National title with a score of 377.76.
“We’re really happy because it’s the first time we’ve really competed together and it’s a list we’ve put together really recently and it’s gone well and we’re over the moon,” Thornton said.
Heatly added: “With Tom Daley and Jack Laugher competing, we really weren’t expecting to be at the top of the podium in this and it’s a great result.”
Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow opened their competition with silver in the event with a promising score of 373.83.
With Chris Mears out of competition with an injury, Jack Laugher competed alongside James Denny but a couple of dropped dives meant they took the bronze with a score of 372.93