Kazan 2014, Day 2: U.S. trio on the women’s podium
It was USA all the way in the women’s final of the first FINA High Diving World Cup, taking place in Kazan with Rachelle Simpson getting the gold in front of her two teammates, medallists at the 2013 FINA World Championships: Ginger Huber was again second while Cesilie Carlton had to content with bronze after being the winner in the Catalonian capital.
In a competition marked by strong winds – athletes choosing armstand dives had visible problems in maintaining their initial position -, Simpson was the most consistent athlete of the nine-diver field. After a modest initial combination, the 26-year-old excelled in a forward 3 somersaults with ½ twists, piked (DD 3.4), amassing the highest score of the session, 86.70. “That dive was key for the gold”, recognised Simpson after the medal ceremony. Leader of the current season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Simpson (1,66m/56kg) couldn’t hide her satisfaction after the victory in Kazan. “I still don’t have words and I cannot stop shaking. It is an amazing feeling. When standing on the podium and watching the three U.S. flags, tears came to my eyes," confessed Simpson. Asked if the wind affected her performance, the U.S. diver smiled: “Fortunately not, as all my dives had a take-off with the feet…”
Youth WP 2014 (M), Day 8: Hungary faces Spain in the final
The two semi finals brought tremendous excitements – and altogether 18 goals in regular time. The defences did a magnificent job and it was the goalkeepers who made the difference. Hungary’s Soma Vogel came up with an unbelievable saving percentage (82%) which was the key of the Magyars’ 5-3 win over Russia.
In the other semis the Spaniards upset the Serbs, after finishing 5-5 in 32 minutes they won in the penalty shootout which saw their goalie, Miquel Linares catching the last two Serbian attempts. This means that Hungary and Spain will play for the gold medal on Sunday – it’s going to be huge as they already clashed in the prelims and finished 6-6.
Montreal 2014, Diving: Canadian Olympian Jeff Hirst completes hat-trick
Toronto-based Jeff Hirst, an Olympian from the 1988 Olympics in Seoul in the 10m platform, bagged three gold and one silver from the 15th FINA World Masters Championships diving competition taking place on August 5-9 in Montreal. Hirst was in a class of his own in the 50-54 age group, sweeping three events in three days: the 1m (291.75 points), 3m springboard (332.45) and 7.5m platform (222.30).
On Saturday August 9, Hirst finished second with Mike Inglis in the platform synchro, less than 3 points behind U.S. pair Scott Smith and Ronald Kontura.
Montreal 2014, Diving: 1989 earthquake keeps her off board for 20 years
At Masters Worlds, each individual has its own story to tell related to their sport. American diver Sara Gilliland's story is quite special. The 37-year-old practiced diving for one year in 1989 and stopped for 20 years. The very day she decided she would never stand on a board or platform again, Gilliland had just had a terrifying experience: she was on the 3m springboard at her home-town club in California when a huge, tidal wave rose from the swimming pool, steming from the San Francisco-Oakland earthquake of October 17, 1989.
The major earthquake, also known as Loma Prieta earthquake, hit the San Francisco bay area, causing more than 60 deaths. "I was so scared that I stopped diving for 20 years," Gilliland said.
Youth WP 2014 (M), Day 7: Hungary faces Russia, Spain to clash with Serbia in the semis
The first two quarter finals produced high drama as Spain ousted Montenegro in the penalty shootout then Russia did the same with Croatia.
The other two quarter finals lacked similar excitements – in fact they were rather one-sided battles as the Serbs thrashed Italy and Hungary upended host Turkey. The games for the lower places also produced thrillers as a series of winning goals came in the dying seconds.
Kazan 2014, Day 1: LoBue’s risks pay off
Thanks to an amazing attempt, U.S. Steve LoBue is the provisional leader of the men’s competition at the first FINA High Diving World Cup after the initial session of dives on August 8, 2014 in Kazan (RUS). One of the few athletes in the world performing a very complicated forward 5 somersaults and ½ twists in piked position (DD 6.1), the North American got 164.70 points for his third and nearly-perfect combination and is naturally the man to beat on Sunday’s session. “I’m pretty confident, as I am quite comfortable in my two last dives of the final," declared LoBue after his effort in this preliminary session.
Behind him stands 2013 world champion Orlando Duque from Colombia. “In order to beat Orlando, I need to choose higher DDs and be successful. Otherwise, even with less DD, his dives are perfect and it's very hard to beat him," continued LoBue. Before Sunday’s final, the 29-year-old native of New Jersey and ninth at last year’s FINA World Championships, will take Saturday’s break to rest the legs and to “support the girls, who are progressing a lot”.
Kazan 2014, Sautin: “High Diving brings additional variety to Aquatics”
His roll of honour is impressive, but he remains humble when watching the High Diving performances. “Some say – he jokes – that you could use a parachute from the 27m platform; these guys, have nothing. They dive and have to enter in the water in the best possible way”, Dmitry Sautin says, considered by many the most complete pool diver in history.
Over five Olympic Games – from 1992 to 2008 – Sautin earned eight medals, including two gold (10m individual in Atlanta 1996 and 10m synchro in Sydney 2000). Moreover, he won a medal in each of the four possible events for men – 3m springboard and 10m platform, both individual and synchro.
Youth WP 2014 (M), Day 6: Europe prevails in the rain
All four European teams downed their respective rivals from the other continents in the 'upper house' of the qualification round in Istanbul on Day 6 of the competition so from the quarter finals only representatives of the 'Old Continent' can have a shot at the podium.
Spain, Croatia and Italy advanced with ease – though the Spanish game was moved to an indoor pool because of the heavy rain hitting the outdoor venue – while the Turks almost blew a win against Japan: they led 8-1 after the first period but the Japanese managed to level the score in the last period. Still, the hosts could net the game winner in the last minute.
Montreal 2014, Synchro: "sport for life" is the motto!
More than 480 synchro swimmers performed in Montreal in one or more of the four events on the programme - Solo, Duet, Team and Free Combination - held from July 28 to August 2, 2014. If the team and free combination often generate the most "wows" thanks to sky-high jumps and original lifts, the solo is a particular event, where the athlete drives the audience in a world of her own.
On Saturday August 2, swimmers aged 25 to more than 80 years old shined in the solo free routine. On that sunny afternoon, the last performer of the day was Kanako Kitao of Japan, 2004 Olympic silver medallist in the team event in Athens. The 28-year-old stunned the judges and audience alike when she appeared on the pool deck with her hair loose and thin braids. The long, dark hair clearly added to the dramatic dimension of her magnificent routine. The audience was blown away, completely mesmerised by Kitao's unique performance.
Kazan 2014: Athletes enjoy the venue
In Barcelona, the beautiful scenario in the Montjuic Municipal Pool had been the stage of the lucky draw for the first ever High Diving competition under FINA auspices, at the 2013 FINA World Championships. In Kazan, Russia, the 34 divers participating at the inaugural FINA High Diving World Cup on August 8-10, 2014 got a hold of the Russian tradition by opening the small “matryoshka” dolls with a number inside, defining their appearance order in the competition. After the technical meeting following the second day of training, athletes strongly applauded the FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu when he confessed that our International Federation will naturally consider the inclusion of the discipline in the Olympic programme.
Under very hot conditions, but blessed by some wind, 25 men and 9 women tested the conditions in the Kazanka River, where a double structure was built: one comprising the platforms for the competition, and, facing it, a TV tower. The three-day competition will be broadcasted live in Russia and the signal will reach over 70 territories worldwide. On the background of the diving structure, the beautiful and emblematic Kremlin of Kazan, the most recognisable monument of the Tatar capital, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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