Diving: Revitalised Starling on a Spanish mission

Hannah Starling. PIC: PA
Hannah Starling. PIC: PA
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Hannah Starling has revealed how looking back on her Olympic debut helped her re-focus for this week’s world championships in Barcelona.

The 18-year-old from Leeds, who is one of four members of the mightily successful city club in the Catalan capital this week, finished just outside the 3m springboard final at London 2012 last summer.

She left the Games delighted to have been involved in the greatest show on earth but a little disappointed in how she performed.

That precipitated a malaise that she struggled to overcome, when continuing her education took priority over her diving, for which she no longer had any long-term goals in place. But just before her recent A-level exams, Starling sat down and watched back the video of her London performance, and was taken aback.

“I only watched my performance from London for the first time recently and I did actually dive quite well, which I hadn’t realised,” said Starling.

“It’s made me feel as though I’ve improved quite a lot.

“It showed me I can compete at that standard and it’s made me feel better prepared for Barcelona.

“London was my main goal in life, but I’d not thought of a goal after that. For a while I was definitely lost as to where I was going. I had no direction and it was all a bit, not confusing, but as if I was in limbo.

“But now since starting competing again this year, and looking back on London, it’s given me the belief that I can dive and that I can be competitive. It’s pushing me in the right direction – it just took a while.”

Starling competes in the 1m springboard on Monday and the 3m equivalent – in which she placed seventh at the European Championships earlier this season – on Friday.

The 3m is her favoured event, and with the 1m coming at the start of the week, she says it helps her ‘engage’ in the competition in time for her main competition. Starling is joined in Barcelona by clubmates Alicia Blagg, 16, of Wakefield, Rebecca Gallantree, 28, and Harrogate’s Jack Laugher, 18. Blagg is the busiest of the quartet, doing the same two individual events as Starling, plus the 3m synchro with Gallantree. Laugher contests the 1m and 3m springboards. After getting five competitors to London – Sarah Barrow has since returned home to Plymouth – sending four to Barcelona 12 months later is great testament to the work done by coaches Adrian Hinchliffe and Edwin Jongejans at the John Charles Aquatics Centre in Leeds. The club are also thriving on a junior front with Leeds celebrating brilliant success representing Team GB at the recent Junior European Championships in Poznan.

A fab five from Leeds helped GB to second place in the medal table and its best ever Junior Europeans. Leading the way was Blagg whose two golds were brilliantly supported by a gold, a silver and a bronze for Matty Lee. Blagg and Lee also helped GB finish the second in the new jump event while another Leeds ace – Lydia Rosenthall scooped an individual silver. Leeds’ Polish invasion was completed by Lois Toulson and Josh Dowd.

Lee’s gold medal triumph made him the first GB diver to ever retain a Junior European Championship gold medal.

Last year he was also the first ever Leeds diver to ever get a gold at the Junior Europeans.

Tim Lee, dad of diving ace Matty, beamed: “If the Leeds team contingent had gone on their own they would have come second in the medal table anyway!”

Hannah Starling is a member of the British Gas GB Diving Team and is calling on everyone to get back in the pool by taking part in British Gas SwimBritain. Team up and take on SwimBritain Sheffield at Ponds Forge on Sunday, September 1 by visiting: www.swimbritain.co.uk/signup