In the mixed team event, the United States beat 16 nations to win the first gold medal of the 24th FINA World Junior Diving Championships 2022. Germany and Great Britain went 2-3.
MONTREAL – Fifteen-year-old Josh Hedberg of the USA threw a massive arm-stand dive on the 10m platform to catapult the US into first place in the Mixed Team event at the 24th FINA World Junior Diving Championships 2022 on Sunday, scoring 91.80 (on a 3.6 DD dive) in the penultimate round.
In the final round, Hedberg notched the high score again (this time, with 10m mixed synchro partner Bayleigh Cranford) to help the US clinch the first gold medal of the championships.
Germany finished second – 10.95 points behind the United States.
Great Britain earned the bronze – 18.20 points behind Germany.
Hedberg had already made a name for himself as a finalist at the 19th FINA World Championships Budapest 2022 in the 10m platform, but Sunday marked his debut at the junior worlds. And the American team kept him plenty busy. In the Mixed Team event, he was involved in three of the team’s six dives.
“You obviously don’t want to let your team down,” Hedberg said, referring to fellow gold medalists Cranford, Ellie Joyce, and Ivor Brown (who turned 15 two days ago). “I gave it my best for each dive and won the gold, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
In the Mixed Team event, men and women from the same nation tried to earn the highest cumulative score by performing six dives in this order: female on 3m, male on 3m, co-ed synchro on 3m, female on platform, male on platform, co-ed synchro on platform. All of Sunday’s medalists used the 10m platform, but 7.5m and 5m platforms were options as well.
Most notably, every team except Great Britain featured four divers. The British used only three, relying on its lone female member, Andrea Spendolini Sirieix to make four of its six dives.
Spendolini Sirieix, like Hedberg, is another prodigy. She first turned heads at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 16 where she placed seventh in the women’s 10m platform. But she had never earned a junior world championship medal until Sunday night.
“This is my first junior worlds and it’s going to be my last junior worlds,” Spendolini Sirieix said, because at 18, she has reached the upper age limit. Nonetheless, she said, “I’m really happy with one medal already. I’ve got individual [events] to come so this is just an icebreaker.”
Celebrations, however, would have to wait. “We’re going to go home, have dinner, and sleep,” Spendolini Sirieix said after the medal ceremony, referring to co-bronze medalists Oscar Kane and Robbie Lee. “I’m exhausted. Obviously, springboard isn’t my go-to. It’s a bit low for me. But it was fun, it was a good experience, no pressure, no nothing.”
Germany’s Espen Prenzyna also enjoyed the new Mixed Team format at junior worlds. “Today was pretty fun. We were laughing all the time,” he said, referring to fellow silver medalists Cora Schiebold, Lotti Hubert, and Olympian Jaden Eikermann Gregorchuk.
Both Prenzyna and Eikermann Gregorchuk competed at the last edition of the FINA World Junior Diving Championships held in 2021, in Kiev, Ukraine, while Covid restrictions were fully in place.
“In Kiev, I placed third in the individual platform,” Eikermann Gregorchuk said, but “This is my first real one with everyone here. It was a great experience.”
On Monday, two titles will be at stake, both in the 14- to 15-year-old age category known as Group B. Group B boys will compete on the 3m springboard. The top 12 divers from the preliminaries will advance to the final where their preliminary scores will be added to their final scores to determine the winner. The Group B girls will follow the same scoring format on the individual platform – except in junior platform diving, athletes may select the height of the tower: 5m, 7.5m, or 10m.
Coming Up | Watch Monday's Competition Live
Prelim | Boys (14-15 Years old) | 3m Springboard
Prelim | Girls (14-15 Years old) | Platform