City of Leeds divers stranded in Siberia ahead of Commonwealth Games

Alicia Blagg with coach Adrian Hinchliffe.
Alicia Blagg with coach Adrian Hinchliffe.
Have your say

THE City of Leeds Diving team’s star divers have been stranded in Siberia after an emergency landing just two days before the start of the Commonwealth Games.

The Leeds contingent were part of the Team GB squad that had been competing in a World Cup competition in Shanghai, China who boarded the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 to London on Monday.

However, the aircraft suffered a “technical difficulty” whilst airborne forcing an emergency landing to Irkutsk Airport in Russia.

The squad - which also featured Tom Daley - were forced to stay overnight in Irkutsk before attempting to fly back to London on Tuesday morning.

Seven members of the City Of Leeds Diving team will compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games for which the opening ceremony takes place on Wednesday.

City of Leeds Diving Club head coach Ady Hinchliffe told the YEP from Siberia: “It’s been a bit of a fiasco to be honest. Hopefully they will get us back or the pool in Glasgow is going to be pretty empty.”

Hinchliffe was part of a strong Leeds contingent that also included fellow coach Edwin Jongejans as well as diving aces Jack Laugher, Chris Mears, Hannah Starling, Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree.

The plane was carrying 301 people in total; 286 passengers including three infants plus three flight deck crew and 12 cabin crew.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “Virgin Atlantic can confirm that the VS251 travelling from Shanghai to London Heathrow has diverted to Irkutsk Airport, Russia, as a precautionary measure due to a technical issue. Safety and security is always our top priority.

“The airline would like to thank passengers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Daley, who was on board with his scriptwriter boyfriend Dustin Lance Black, took an Instagram photo of proceedings while airborne adding the caption: “Just had to make an emergency landing in Irkutsk, Russia on the way back from Shanghai. Here’s the pic of the fuel dump before landing,”

The Leeds divers had been set for a specifically planned 48 hour rest period with their families before heading to the Commonwealths.

But the sporting stars will now have just one day off to pack on Wednesday before travelling to Glasgow by train on Thursday morning.

City Of Leeds divers James Denny and Yona Knight-Wisdom will also compete at the Commonwealth Games with the latter representing Jamaica.

The divers are lucky that competition in their sport does not begin until next Wednesday.

PIC: Simon Hulme

£12m Leeds Grand Theatre regeneration plan includes a little extra help from the taxpayer