England wrapped up diving at the 2022 Commonwealth Games with gold and silver in the new 10m mixed event, just after Scotland won mixed 3m gold to capture its first diving medal all week.
England leaves the Commonwealth Games with 15 (of 36) diving medals, taking gold and silver on the final day in the mixed 10m event, while Scotland – finally – won its first medal: gold in mixed 3m.
Mixed 10m Final
The new 10m mixed final proved to be anyone’s game, but 17-year-old Andrea Spendolini Sirieix and her partner Noah Williams led a 1-2 finish to thrill the host nation yet again. In doing so, Spendolini Sirieix captured her second gold (and third medal) of the Games. Williams also snared his second gold of the Games.
With one dive to go, the young duo had a 16.44-point lead over their compatriots Kyle Kothari and Lois Toulson, thanks largely to a sparking inward 3½ in the penultimate round which garnered five 9.0s from the nine judges.
To finish with 333.06 points, Spendolini Sirieix said, was “a PB [personal best] for us in synchro! I'm really pleased with how we executed our dives."
Since the mixed diving events aren’t in the Olympics, Williams said, “I think some people take it less seriously. We take it seriously – but [here] we could definitely enjoy ourselves more. It's been incredible to have all of these fans. Usually we have Nationals, but it's just the parents of the divers that turn up!”
Kothari and Toulson ended on a high note, scoring 76.80 for their grand finale, a back 2½ with 1½ twists, claiming silver less than 15 points behind their teammates.
Bronze went to Sunday’s 10m men’s champion, the stylish powerful Cassiel Rousseau, 21, and Emily Boyd, a 27-year-old who has spent several years rebounding gracefully from a multitude of injuries. The Australians had a chance to overtake the second English pair on their final dive but didn’t execute or synchronize the same dive quite as sharply as their predecessors, finishing less than nine points away from the silver.
“I wanted to do this for a while with Cass,” Boyd said, “but I was so nervous this morning. After watching him go over 500 points last night and come out on top, I just wanted to back that up and do something for myself as well, as my other comps didn’t go as planned.”
Rousseau said that after winning the men’s 10m individual gold, it “was pretty challenging to put that to the side. Even though this isn’t such a serious [event], I still wanted to get a medal for Australia.”
Mixed 3m Final
Earlier in Monday’s session, Scotland also checked a box on its to-do list. And it had been a long time coming.
Scottish divers had finished a nerve-wracking fourth place four times through the first 10 diving events. On the last day, it finally graced the podium. It came down to the final dive in the Commonwealth debut of the mixed 3m event.
Even before the first dive, however, Grace Reid and James Heatly were heavily favoured to win because the Scottish duo had just taken the bronze medal at the 19th FINA World Championships earlier this summer. Yet on Monday morning in front of a full house at the Sandwell Aquatics Center, the pair had been bopping around in the top-three positions after the first four dives. With one dive to go, less than five points separated the top three teams.
The Scots saved their hardest dive for last, a forward 3½. It was strong enough to capture the highest score of the session (74.3 points) for a 306.00 total. But nine teams had yet to dive.
Li Shixin and Maddison Keeney had been leading the entire day. Yet their final dive, a forward 2½ with 1 twist – came up short and they finished less than two points behind the Scots, accruing 304.02 for silver.
The last pair with any hope was England’s Ben Cutmore and 18-year-old Desharne Bent-Ashmeil. They needed more than 71.7 points to overtake Scotland for gold, but Bent-Ashmeil slightly over-rotated on their back 2½, allowing Malaysia’s Muhammad Puteh and Nur Sabri to take bronze with 299.04 points.
Reid told the BBC afterwards: "To win gold today, with all of our family here just makes me speechless. I need a lie down! And I keep seeing people with pizza so I'm definitely having a pizza!"
"It's insane, I'm over the moon,” added Heatly. “I honestly don't know what to say! It's been tough, I'm really happy to do this with Grace though and to save all of this for the last day. If it becomes an event at the Olympics then we're up for it!"
Keeney and Li’s silver meant they both left Birmingham with three medals apiece – but this was the one they least expected
“It was a last-minute decision to enter into mixed synchro,” Keeney said, “Shixin has always wanted to have a go at it with me. We haven’t been practising together a lot. We also have very different styles so it’s difficult but we had a lot of fun.”
Li agreed with Keeney’s assessment about the challenges of men and women trying to dive in synch.
“It’s very difficult, just like [trying to use] Windows XP on a Mac system,” he joked.
Coming close - and still leaving the Commonwealth Games satisfied
As for the young English duo who came within two points of the bronze, Cutmore said, "I think we dived spectacularly considering it is the third time we have dived together in competition. It's a new thing and we are both really young. She's turning 18 in a week or two and I'm 19 later this year so we'll be back for the next one that's for sure."