Following the bronze in the 10m synchro diving from Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow, it was the turn of fellow diving poster boys Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the 3m springboard synchro. Laugher and Mears went into the competition as Commonwealth Gold Medalists and Bronze Medalists in the world finals. The Chinese were seen as the ones to beat, with Yuan Cao partnering Kai Qin who was seeking his third consecutive Olympic Gold. The final gave us a bit of everything and did not disappoint.
The diving pool was still mysteriously green following the gradual change of colour during the Womens’ 10m synchro. The first two rounds of diving had capped degrees of difficulty at 2.0. For those new to diving the marks awarded by the judges are then multiplied by the degree of difficulty to get the score. Two sets of marks for the synchro, one set for execution and the other set for synchronisation.
After the second round of dives, the GB team was in second position but all could change with an error in the dive as the Brazilian pair of Ian Matos and Luiz Felipe Ourterello demonstrated when an error scored a low 28.8 on the easier dive.
Round three was where the difficulty cap was lifted and the divers were able to show off. The USA pair of Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon scored the highest marks with a forward 2.5 twist, getting 85.68 to Laughersand Mears’s 84.66 for the same dive. China showed unusual faltering and with a loss of points in the synchronisation marks gained just 79.56. This kept Team GB in the top spot but the pressure was on.
Team USA kept the pressure on in the fourth round with a high scoring 3.5 twist, getting 87.15 to Laugher and Mear’s 85.68 for their 3.5 somersault with tuck.
Round five saw Laugher and Mears get a slightly lower score in terms of their synchronicity for their most difficult dive – a 2.5 somersault and 3 twists in the pike position. However the 3.9 difficulty helped them edge ahead with 86.58 to the USA’s 78.54. China were fighting back with a huge score of 90.3 from their reverse 3.5 with tuck.
Just three points separated Team GB and Team USA and the drama was yet to come. The Mexican pair of Jahir Ocampo and Rommel Pacheco immediately protested for a re-dive after the floodlights burst on just as the pair started their final dive. The pair appeared to think that they had been given the re-dive with Team USA stepping aside to allow the Mexicans to dive again. A stall of eight minutes took place whilst the Mexican pair, officials and the referee at a stalemate. The Mexican score for the dive was read out and, after further protests were dismissed in what will be a controversial decision, the competition was over for Mexico.
The American Pair came out and showed that the delay hadn’t affected them mentally with an incredible 4.5 somersault with tuck that scored 98.04. Team USA set the score to beat at 450.21. Laugher and Mears needed 86 to come top of the table. They performed the same dive as the Americans and with a slight over-rotation from Mears it was considered “close” by the commentators but a score of 91.20 gave the Team GB boys 454.32. Less than a four point lead over America. They set China the high bar of 95 required to take the Gold. China performed the same dive as the Americans and Team GB and they scored 83.22, totaling 443.70. With the Brazilian pair the last to dive, Jack Laugher and Chris Mears became the first British divers to win an Olympic Gold. Considering Mears came 5th in London 2012 and Laugher placed 27th, this is possibly the biggest success story over the four years between Olympics.
The pair are often overshadowed by Tom Daley but now the pair have the first Olympic gold for Britain to add to their growing collection. Huge congratulations to them both. This win came after Team GB took bronze with Chris Froome in the Cycling Individual Time Trial, Sally Conway in the Women’s 70KG Judo, Steven Scott in the Men’s Double Trap Shooting and Max Whitlock in the Individual Gymnastics (the first men’s gymnastic medal for over 100 years). Team GB also won a brilliant gold from from Joseph Clarke in the Men’s Kayak K1 slalom. This added to the two silver medals for swimming in the early hours of the British morning: Siobhan_Marie O’Connor in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley and the Men in the 4*200m Freestyle Relay.
Today was a day that will settle the nerves of many Team GB fans and the 3m springboard synchro final will become a highlight of Rio 2016. Things can only get better.