Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent in Russia

Two sets of medals in 1m and 3m springboard were played out on 29 November at the Aquatics Palace of Kazan, Russia.

The first home success celebrated the team Russia as Nikita Shleikher won the boy’s A (16 – 18 year old) 3m springboard title in Kazan.

Placing just fifth in the 35-men preliminaries with 533.65, the 18-years old diver showed his sports character and readiness to climbing up the podium. To begin with, in the 1st final attempt, Nikita got 4 points clear of all his major opponents, executing the inward 3 ½ somersaults tuck, and one round later almost doubled his lead as the forward 4 ½ somersaults tuck brought him 83.60 points. The Russian never gave the way to his nerves as his main challengers started to suffer problems. He was firm and concentrated on himself, sealing the crown with a reverse 1 ½ somersaults 3 ½ twists for the total of 589.35.

Champion Nikita Shleikher is celebrating his title in his home city 

The 12-men final turned to be a disappointment for the British Jordan Houlden, who was a part of the gold winning Mixed team on the inaugural competition day. Second heading into the decisive game, he did not show his best in the first and the fourth attempts, and finished sixth. Jonathan Suckow of Switzerland so much loved by spectators for his style and air, rested on the fourth with 548.20.

Russian Diving Federation Vice-President Gleb Galperin, famous for his 2 champions titles of the FINA World Diving Championships and 2 Olympic bronze medals of Beijing-2008, was awaited excitedly for the start of the medal’s ceremony.

"I am so proud of Nikita Shleikher, - he confessed. – We all hoped our athlete would win gold, and he proved our expectation. I congratulate my compatriot, his coach and all home crowd. His execution has been almost flawless today, so the title is well deserved.”

Boys A 3m springboard event at the Aquatics Palace of Kazan

“It’s really hard to get on the board and actually do it, - said silver medalist Linhai Chen. – I am no way disappointed with the color of the medal as silver means you are second best in the world, but I could have performed even better. This is just the beginning of my career, and I will be looking forward to show my best. My next challenge will come on the Boys A 1m springboard and 3m synchro springboard”.

“I came out and did my best, - commented on winning his first ever Junior World’s bronze Alexander Carter Matthew of Australia. –Usually, I prefer to be focused on my performance rather than tracking the scores of my opponents. So it paid off with the podium presence today. I am grateful to the spectators for the support, - he added with a smile. – They are a great help!”

The USA celebrated gold in the Girls B (14 – 15 years old) 1m springboard, which was not easy to predict, judging upon the preliminaries. The story turned into a show with the denouement coming on the very last seconds.

Girls B 1m springboard event at the Aquatics Palace of Kazan

Yixian Liang of China topped the preliminaries chart, but in the final didn’t manage to control the pressure. She spared her 10-point margin easily in her 2nd dive as scoring 46.00 for the back 1 ½ somersaults with pike was definitely not enough to be competitive for the champions title.

Maria Coburn of the USA in her turndid not miss the chance, and sneaked ahead of Liang. Her last attempt with the reverse 1 ½ somersaults 1 ½ twists was a success for a total win with 354.35 points.

The Chinese had to be contempt with silver at almost 10 points behind, followed by her teammate He Xiaojie with 338.45.

On her World Junior Diving Championships golden debut American Maria Coburn said:

“I am more than happy with the quality of the medal. It took me some pangs to reach the finals as well as it was not an easy task to show my skills competing the 12 best divers. It is very important to be confident and keep you nerves. This is my first time at the world junior championships, and I hope, this win will give me confidence to be competitive among grown-ups later”

China’s Yixian Liang was gracious in "defeat", saying, that her opponent was simply better.

“There are so many good junior divers, and that’s why your every mistake is punished immediately. I am sure this will give me good food for analyses and I will work on to improve my skills and results. The Aquatics Palace of Kazan is absolutely amazing, - she added after a pause. It is a pleasure to dive in such a nice venue”.

Bronze medalist Xiaojie He was very reserved, it seemed as if it was difficult for her to find the right words to characterize her feelings.

"Well, I knew I could win, but there were a number of mistakes in my performance, - she confessed. – I mean I always train hard, and do my best during the competitions, and my coach always says, that to step up the podium I shall simply do everything as I usually do at practice. Sounds easy, easier said than done. I am very grateful to my coach for her job and support”.

Awarding Ceremony in 1m springboard Girls B event 
Competition results. 21st FINA World Junior Diving Championships.

Day 2

Boys A 3m springboard

1. Nikita Shleikher (RUS), 589.30
2. Chen Linhai (CHN), 572.80
3. Alexander carter Matthew (AUS), 564.80
4. Jonathan Suckow (SUI), 548.20
5. Patrick Kreisel (GER), 533.55
6. Jordan Houlden (GBR), 515
7. Daniel Restrepo Garcia (COL), 515.25
8. Grayson Campbell (USA), 514.80
9. Anthony Harding (GBR), 510.75
10. Ito Hiroki (JPN), 501.20
11. Peter Thach Mai (CAN), 498.90
12. Andreas Larsen (DEN), 491.45

Girls B 1m springboard

1. Maria Coburn (USA), 354.35
2. Yixian Liang (CHN), 344.55
3. Xiaojie He (CHN), 338.45
4. Alexandra Bibikina (RUS), 336.80
5. Annika Miethig (GER), 333.05
6. Scarlett Mew Jensen (GBR), 329.41
7. Lena Hentschel (GER), 327.85
8. Chiara Pellacani (ITA), 326.05
9. Isabella Jonson Sopjie Grace (AUS), 323.55
10. Bridget O’Neill (USA), 321.50
11. Aranza Vazquez (MEX), 320.60
12. Mia Jolie Doucent Valee (CAN), 313.45