British Gas Junior Elite Diving Championships 2014

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The SDA travelled to The British Diving Junior Elites 2014 with a team of 10 of their top junior divers. The standard of British Junior diving was impressive and the SDA team returned with 3 Silver and 4 Bronze medals, with all 10 SDA divers reaching a final. This prestigious competition is the highlight of the domestic junior calendar with the top divers aged under 19 battling it out for honours.

This competition not only serves to find our National Junior Elite Champions but, more importantly, it is the event used to select our Junior International Teams.  This year it was held at The Life Centre in Plymouth and proved to be a very successful competition for our local divers and three youngsters from Southampton Diving Academy have been confirmed as part of the England  Junior International Team selected to travel to the forthcoming Junior International in Rome, Italy this Summer and a further diver selected for her first GB Junior International as part of the team going to the Junior European Championships in Bergamo, Italy, at the end of this month.  Two thirteen year olds, Emily Martin and Brandon Foster, both coached by senior coach Jack Clewlow, secured their places with overall performances placing them in the top three in their age group over three boards earning them the honour of representing their country.  Fourteen year old Madeleine Angell earned her place by obtaining Junior European scores in her 1m and platform prelims.  Sixteen year old Gemma McArthur juggled GCSE exams with junior and senior competitions resulting in successfully securing a place with the GB team travelling to the Junior European Championships in Bergamo, Italy, at the end of this month

The first day’s events were the Synchro events and SDA had three of its divers competing.  Brandon Foster teamed up with Sheffields Owen Harrison, competing together for the first time; they won the silver medal in the boys 9-13 years 3m Synchro and in the girls equivalent to this event, SDA team mates Tanya Watson & Emily Martin, competing together for the first time on 3m, achieved the bronze.

Emily Martin, divng in the girls 9-13 Years, achieved 2nd place in the 3m springboard preliminary, finishing in 4th place in the final. She then went on to win bronze in the platform event, achieving a personal best score in this final and maintaining her placing from the preliminary.  In the 1m springboard event she progressed into the final in 5th place, with a 9 point deficit on the third place competitor.  She performed three fantastic dives, including a front two and half somersaults tucked which scored 7’s from the judges, winning the bronze medal, just 1.75 points from silver.  Joining Emily in these finals was synchro partner Tanya Watson, this was Tanyas first trip to Junior Elites and she thrived on the experience. After securing her Bronze medal in the synchro she went onto reach the finals in all her events achieving personal best scores in both her springboard finals and 4th place in the Platform event.

Brandon Foster, also new to this level of diving, impressed in the boys 9-13 years platform event where he won the silver medal. He secured a third place finish in the preliminary with a score of 306.05 points and went on to perform three incredible dives in the final, achieving a personal best score and 8’s for his inward two and half somersaults from 7.5m to win the silver –  an impressive 30 points ahead of bronze.  He also made the finals in the 1m and 3m springboards in 6th place but improved his placing in the finals to 5th place on both boards.

Madeleine Angell, diving in the girls 14/15 Years won her platform preliminary by a very comfortable 29.25 point margin achieving a personal best score of 309.85 points, Madeleine then went on to take the Bronze medal in the final of this event.  In the 1m event Madeleine again scored a personal best score of 314.35 points to reach the final in 2nd place, Madeleine then slipped just out on the medals in the 1m final finishing in fourth place. Both Madeleines 1m and Platform preliminary scores were the required scores for Junior Europeans, demonstrating her underlying potential. Lucy Hawkins also attended her first Junior Elites and secured a place in the final of the platform event in this age group.  She completed a steady set of dives in the preliminary to achieve a sixth placing in the final and then improved her final performance to finish in 5th place.

Max Cott, competing in the boys 14/15 years, achieved personal best scores in the 1m and platform events, his most notable improvement was in the platform event where he increased his personal best score by 48.55 points and finished in fourth position. Max also achieved 5th place in the 1m final.

Lewys Oakley competed in the boys 16-18 years and achieved a place in the 1m final in 5th place with a score of 369.60, he finished in the final in 6th place.

Gemma McArthur qualified for the 16-18 years platform final in 2nd place, achieving a personal best score of 380.45, aided by obtaining a personal best score of 66 points for her front three and half somersaults piked.  In the finals the divers carry forward the scores from the first four dives in prelims and competing their last four dives again to win the medals.  Gemma would start the final with a lesser score than her competitors from prelims but pulled this back with another personal best dive, a back two and half somersaults with one and a half twists  scoring 70.40 points.  The final rounds were closely fought with Gemma producing some fantastic diving, achieving more pb’s.  This inspiring performance resulted in Gemma taking home the silver medal.  Sarah White also secured her place in the platform final in third place with superb required dives and a personal best score just behind team mate Gemma, but slipped in to 4th place in the final. Mollie James produced two personal best scores in both springboard events reaching the final in the 1m event in 6th place but improving her final performance and placing to 5th.

The standard of divers at this competition improves year on year and 2014 was no exception.  Many of the divers competing at this event are established Junior GB divers or under the watchful eye of British Diving within their talent programme.  SDA attended this event with many of its divers just stepping up to this level and they have returned home with medals and made finals, and at the very least achieved personal best scores and two earned the opportunity to represent GB.

Coaches Lindsey Fraser and Jack Clewlow said:

‘We are delighted with how well the team performed, and to have 4 divers selected for International representation following this event is a tribute to their hard work. We hope all the divers will have learnt valuable lessons from their experience. They had a great team spirit. Well done to all’