Diving’s Matty Lee and Tom Daley lay platform for Olympic Games gold
Yorkshire’s Matty Lee stepped up his preparations for the Olympics with a gold-medal winning performance at the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest.
The 23-year-old from Leeds was a dominant winner of the 10m synchro title alongside British diving poster boy Tom Daley, the pair setting a personal best total of 477.57 points.
It was a second gold medal of the month for the duo, who clinched victory at a World Cup event in Japan.
It all augers well for a successful return to the Far East later this summer in the Tokyo Olympics.
What is more, Lee – who relocated to to London from the City of Leeds Diving Club three years ago to work more closely with Daley – is confident there is more to come.
“It means so much to win this title and I’m very, very happy with it,” said Lee.
“There’s room for improvement still, even with a PB, but I’m just happy with how the World Cup went and now the European Championships.
“I feel really, really good about what we just did.
“The whole lockdown situation made me really miss competing and I feel like I learnt why I love doing the sport.
“I’m now trying to embrace it all I can, enjoy it and just working really hard, and it’s all paying off. I’m just really happy with where I’m at.”
It was a virtually flawless display from start to finish from the British pair.
Diving second of eight pairings, Daley and Lee executed two strong required dives, before moving through the gears as they hit their optionals.
Leading at the halfway mark, the Dive London duo, coached by Jane Figueiredo, kept their foot on the accelerator with a truly stunning back three-and-a-half somersaults pike (207B) rewarded with 97.20 points, extending their lead. The Russian pair of Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev, who took World Championship silver in 2019 when Daley and Lee won bronze, were not going to go down without a fight, but the Britons turned the screw once more with a 92.82-point reverse three-and-a-half somersaults tuck.
Needing to execute one final dive, they posted another score of 90 points to clinch victory and lay down a marker for Tokyo.
It was the only gold Great Britain won at the European Championships, with City of Leeds’ Jack Laugher winning a silver in the 1m springboard.
But in his Olympic events of the 3m springboard and 3m synchro, he could only manage sixth place in both, five years after winning silver and gold, respectively, at the Rio Olympics.
City of Leeds also celebrated another silver medal in the women’s 10m synchro through Lois Toulson.
But it was a case of so close, yet so far for Kat Torrance and her 3m synchro partner Grace Reid, who missed out on a medal by a narrow margin on Sunday.
“It’s mixed emotions,” said 22-year-old Torrance.
“It’s really hard when you’re that close but that’s just how diving is.
“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to use that to really push ourselves to work on what we need to work on, so next time it’s not close and we can just be striding ahead.”