A squad of 15 Sheffield Diving competitors joined the top divers in the UK for the prestigious British National Diving Cup in Plymouth, over the weekend. For some of our divers – one as young as 13 – this was their first major competition where they would be pitting themselves against Olympians such as Tom Daley, Jack Laugher, Daniel Goodfellow, Grace Reid and Lois Toulson, as well as Sheffield’s own Commonwealth Games athletes Jack and Ross Haslam. At the end of a brilliant weekend’s competition, Sheffield achieved tremendous success, coming away with a total of 8 medals, which included 2 national titles.
The first day saw Yasmin Harper and Millie Fowler win places in the Women’s 1m final, Harper beating her Personal Best (PB) to do so. In the finals, Fowler came 4th and Harper took the bronze medal with 239.55 points, beating her brand-new PB from earlier in doing so. The Men’s 1m preliminaries were won by Ross Haslam, with Jordan Houlden taking second place. In the finals later, Houlden won bronze with a score of 377.10 while Haslam maintained his earlier form to win gold and take the title of British National Men’s 1m Champion, scoring 383.70. Both men were back in action later that afternoon, in the Men’s 3m synchro finals. Houlden, paired with Anthony Harding from Leeds, came away with his second bronze of the day, whilst Haslam, with his brother, Jack, took the silver with 364.44, emulating their success in last year’s competition.
Day 2 opened with 7 Sheffield divers competing in the Men’s 3m preliminaries. Harrison Hartley, Sheffield’s youngest competitor, did well to beat his PB in such a tough event but it was Jack and Ross Haslam who were successful in getting through to the finals, in which Jack came 7th and Ross claimed his third medal of the championships, a bronze this time, with a score of 388.70 points. In the Women’s Platform preliminaries, Tia McGarry won a place in the finals by taking 7th place and improved on that to come 4th later, diving impressively to beat her PB and only missing out on a medal by a mere 12 points, scoring 275.55. In the synchro finals later that afternoon, Owen Harrison and his diving partner Brandon Foster, from Southampton, scored 297.57 and took a well-earned 4th place in the Men’s 10m synchro event. Sheffield’s second medal of the day was won by Yasmin Harper, with her diving partner Victoria Vincent of Plymouth, by coming 3rd in the Women’s 3m synchro competition, scoring 243.78 and adding another bronze to Sheffield’s tally and a second to her own.
The third and final day of the championships began with the Women’s 3m preliminaries. Again, one of Sheffield’s younger divers, Richelle Houlden, beat her PB for this event and came an impressive 10th, but it was Millie Fowler and Yasmin Harper who made it through to the finals, in 5th and 7th places respectively. In the finals, Harper improved her position to 6th with a score of 243.80 (a new PB) whilst it was a delighted Fowler who took advantage of some other competitors’ mistakes to win gold – and the title of British National Women’s 3m Champion – with a convincing margin of over 30 points, scoring 302.80 and notching up a new PB into the bargain. Fowler, who also dives for Edinburgh whilst studying there at university, said, “I’m so overwhelmed and I can’t really believe that’s just happened!…This means so much – I never really thought I’d do it. I’m lost for words.”
It was another successful event for Sheffield Diving, with the squad winning 2 gold medals (and national titles), 1 silver and 5 bronze. Other Sheffield divers who competed fiercely in this daunting competition, were Evie Webb, Fern Hitchen, Oliver Hoban, Joseph Pashley, Owen Harrison, Jessica Vega and Conrad Lewandowski.
Commenting on the achievements of the weekend, Sheffield Diving head coach Tom Owens said, “It was a very exciting Championships. Many of the Sheffield divers have increased the difficulty of their programs and this was the first big test of the year. We saw a lot of fantastic performances that show real promise for the rest of the season.”