Baku, June 18, AZERTAC
Where Russia’s all-conquering synchronised swimmers left off on Tuesday, their young divers plan to carry on, with four golds up for grabs on the platform and the springboard in one of the most spectacular of European Games disciplines.
“Yes, I hope we can do the same as our synchronised swimming team,” smiled the brilliant 15-year-old world junior silver medallist Nikita Nikolaev, who will compete together with his friend Ilia Molchanov in the synchronised 3m springboard.
Except even this confident youngster knows that the diving competition, featuring most of the continent’s finest teenagers, will be much more unpredictable than the inevitable procession of Russian golds in the synchro.
The British men, in particular, are confident in the strength of their team. “We’ve got a load of guys coming into the event that are strong medal prospects and we’ve certainly got our eye on a few of the medals,” said coach Tom Owens.
The British challenge features platform duo Matty Lee, a double bronze medallist from the 2014 World Series, and Matthew Dixon, who has been helped by his clubmate, Britain’s top diver Tom Daley.
One of the biggest stars of the four-day programme should be the hugely talented 16-year-old from Copenhagen, Andreas Larsen, who beat Nikolaev to the world junior title in Penza, Russia, last year in a thrilling 1m springboard duel.
In the women's competitions, some of the divers, such as Russia's Yulia Timoshinina, have come straight from the senior European championships in Rostock.
She will be the favourite in the platform event having just won her second senior European title in the 10m synchro platform and finishing fourth in the 10m platform final.
Timoshinina will perform from the 10m height and faces challenges from Anne Vilde Tuxen of Norway, who reached the senior final in Rostock and who is also competing in 1m and 3m springboard.
Britain are expected to win several medals across the board, and there are high hopes for Lois Toulson, who won the 2015 British championship against stiff opposition.