Cape Town - The South African diving team continues to excel in international competitions.
According to the SASCOC website, Olympian Julia Vincent led the way with several highlights these past three weeks, both at the Grand Prix in Bolzano and now at the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest.
Starting at the Grand Prix in Bolzano, the South African 3m synchronised diving team of Micaela Bouter and Nicole Gillis placed fourth in the event with a score of 236.31, only 6.33 points behind the Brazilian team in third place.
In the women’s 10m platform event, Jaimee Gundry produced an outstanding set of dives in the preliminary round, placing sixth with a score of 248.90 and progressing to the semi-finals. Bouter mirrored Gundry’s results, placing fourth in the preliminary competition with a score of 257.40 and progressing to the semi-finals.
Moving on to the FINA World Championships currently under way, and Vincent joined the team as the divers continued to show their improvement at an international event.
In the women’s 1m, Gillis placed 18th out of 42 divers, narrowly missing the top 12 and the final by 5.2 points.
Vincent was well on her way to the final, lying in fifth position
going into the final round of dives, but unfortunately missed her final
dive and placed 28th.
Then the 3m synchronised team of Bouter and Gillis produced an outstanding result in the women’s 3m synchronised event, placing 14th out of 19 teams and setting a new South African record score of 249.66 at a World Championship event.
The women’s 10m platform event was a tough competition with a large field of competitors. Gundry placed 35th out of 37 competitors with a score of 230.60.
And then came the highlight of the event to date, with Vincent progressing through to the finals of the women’s 3m event.
In an event that consisted of 40 divers, Bouter, who was lying in the top 20, missed her reverse 2.5 S/S in pike and finally placed 30th, while Vincent managed a consistent preliminary placing 17th with a score of 270.20.
Later in the day she dived in the semi-final event and continued to produce even better dives, which placed her in 12th place with an improved score of 289.65 and securing herself a place in the finals on Friday evening.
This score of Vincent is the best score achieved by a South African at a World Championship since 2000.
Said Vincent after the event, ‘It’s been a fine, but pretty stressful day. I wanted to go into the next meet with confidence and trusting in the work I had put in and I’m happy I was able to do that. I think I’m still in disbelief, but I’m so happy to be going into my first world championship final. I am so grateful that I get to represent my country and I can’t wait to give it my all in the final.’
Her coach Todd Sherritt had this to say: ‘Julia had her work cut out for her. She has never had a top 18 finish and we were trying to crack the top 18 in the first contest. She stayed steady the first contest and put herself in position to semi-final.
‘That contest came down to the last dive and she put down her 305 B (reverse 2.5 s/s in pike) for sevens advancing her to the semi-final.
‘During the semi-finals her second dive was a little off and she put herself in a position where she had to bounce back. Her fourth dive was solid and bumped her up to 14th. Then the last round she nailed her reverse 2.5 s/s in pike for 7.5’s and that propelled her into 12th. I’m so proud of her. It's not over yet though, we have to forget about this and focus on the finals to find a way to move up.’
Should Vincent place in the top eight in the final, she’ll qualify to participate in the Diving World Series.