Courtesy: LEN Media
Much to the joy of the home crowd, the Ukrainians doubled down the events held on Day 2 at the European Diving Championships in Kyiv. Viktoriya Kesar and Stanislav Oliferchik won a thrilling final in the 3m mixed synchro, then came Sofia Lyskun and with a couple of outstanding dives she clinched the title in the women’s platform and also secured her spot at 2020 Olympic Games.
Medalists, Day 2
Mixed 3m synchro: 1. Viktoriya Kesar, Stanislav Oliferchik (UKR) 297.69, 2. Lou Massenberg, Tina Punzel (GER) 294.09, 3. Michelle Heimberg, Jonathan Suckow (SUI) 282.00
Women’s 10m: 1. Sofia Lyskun (UKR) 330.00, 2. Celine van Duijn (NED) 304.50, 3. Iulia Timoshinina (RUS) 304.45
Sofia Lyskun’s performance in the women’s platform final was the true highlight of the day. The 17-year old came up with her best efforts when she faced her most difficult dives. Both attempts with 3.2DD received a series of 8.0s from the judges – in fact she was the only finalists to earn 8.0s during the session.
Thanks to these two 76+-pointers, her evening ‘package’ could even include a weaker dive in the second round, she still won with a big margin. The gold is also her ticket to the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year (she didn’t compete at the Worlds where the 12 finalists booked the first spots but grabbed the chance in front of a joyful home crowd).
Title-holder Celine van Duijn enjoyed a very balanced evening with no big mistakes though no outstanding dives and that was enough to finish runner-up here (and she also received her LEN Award at the ceremony as she had been elected Europe’s best female diver for the 2018 achievements).
Let’s note that the tiniest margin possible separated the Dutch from 2014-15 synchro champion Yulia Timoshinina who came from behind and with a fine last dive pushed Germany’s Maria Kurjo down from the podium. She snatched the bronze and got as close as 0.05 points to van Duijn. Fellow Russian Ekaterina Beliaeva led after two rounds but failed to hold her armstand twice in the third, she had to leave the tower through the stairs, got 0.00 and that killed her chances.
Earlier, the afternoon session brought the first gold for the home nation, after a thrilling final in the mixed 3m synchro. The eventual top two pairs scored identical points in the first three rounds: Viktoriya Kesar and Stanislav Oliferchik had an extremely close battle with Germany’s Lou Massenberg and Tina Punzel – first round: 48.00-48.00; second round: 46.80-46.80, third round: 65.70-65.70.
Then in the fourth the Ukrainians received slightly better marks to their synchronization (8.0s vs 7.5s), buying them a 1.41-point edge before the last round and they finally prevailed to win by 3.60. In fact, their marks never fell below 7.0 throughout the final while the Germans got a couple of 6.5s. (The two duos offered the same selection of dives though the last three came in different order.)
A bit surprisingly, the Swiss pair of Michelle Heimberg and Jonathan Suckow landed in the third position with a series of nice and balanced dives, their synchro marks were constantly in the range of 7.0-7.5s and that put them ahead of the Italians and Russians.
Sofia Lyskun (UKR), gold, 10m platform
“I really wanted to win. One week before these championships I started imagining that I would win this event, that was my dream. Thanks to the hard work and the lot of training I had I could achieve it so I’m really glad now.”
Celine van Duijn (NED), silver, 10m platform
“It was not the start I imagined before. But I went on, wanted to stay focused, I thought I would not give in and fight till the end. I told myself, let’s see what the result would be and it ended up in a medal so I’m quite happy.”
Iulia Timoshinina (RUS), bronze, 10m platform
“I’m very satisfied with this medal. There was only an extremely small difference between me and the silver medallist but it doesn’t matter, I’m really happy with this bronze now.”
Stanislav Oliferchik (UKR), gold, 3m synchro
“The support from the crowd as simply amazing and we are happy that we could give the fans something to cheer about.”
Viktoriya Kesar (UKR, gold, 3m synchro
“We were a bit worried that we had to do our best but we managed to do it so we are extremely happy now.”
Tina Punzel (GER), silver, 3m synchro:
“It was certainly not a perfect competition for us, but I’m still satisfied with the silver. The Ukrainians really staged a good series here and at home you might also enjoy a home advantage of one-two points. That’s fine and finishing runner-up is not that bad either. Two medals in two days, that’s almost perfect.”
Lou Massenberg (GER), silver, 3m synchro:
“We had a pretty successful season, claimed bronze at the World Championships in Korea and now silver here at the European Championships. Of course we would have liked to defend our title from last year, but unfortunately the Ukrainians were a bit too strong here at home. The crowd was quite loud and an audience like this can push the judges to award one or the other half points higher to the home divers. Otherwise, Tina and I had a good competition and did not have any big mistake. That’s why we also had a big gap between us and third placed pair, while at the front it was pretty tight. Maybe we could have shown our technical line a little more clearly in one or two jumps. Then maybe we could have got half the point here and there in order to win. Overall, we are very happy with the silver which is the second medal for us in two days and that’s awesome.”
Michelle Heimberg (SUI), bronze, 3m synchro
“Kyiv is just an amazing place for me, two years ago I won a silver here (in the 3m) and I never thought that I was able to achieve one more medal so I’m absolutely overjoyed. We knew if we dived really good we could get a good place but didn’t think it might be enough for a medal.”