Spendolini-Sirieix gold ends England’s best diving Commonwealth Games

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For five long days of competition in Birmingham, the best divers in England were almost untouchable. As the final Commonwealth Games medals were handed out, they allowed themselves just one atrocious dive each to close. Together, Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, Noah Williams, Kyle Kothari and Lois Toulson headed towards the Sandwell Aquatics Centre’s diving pool where they expertly performed celebratory belly flops in unison.

They had a lot to celebrate. Moments earlier, 17-year-old Spendolini-Sirieix’s breakthrough Games came to a perfect end as she paired with Williams to win her second mixed synchro gold medal. As she did in her individual feats, they dominated the field, scoring 333.06 to win by 14.52 points ahead of Kothari and Toulson in an English one-two finish.

Spendolini-Sirieix had already won gold in the women’s 10m platform and then silver in the synchro, bringing her medal haul to three. She has had a lot of attention in the diving community for some time, her talent is well known, and here in her first big matches she has flourished: “It’s been amazing,” she said. “I think we came in to have fun and we definitely did. It’s a PB for us, synchro, actually. I’m just really happy with how we executed our dives and our synchro.”

Related: Six of the best Britons from the Commonwealth Games

Alongside her, the 22-year-old Williams has had a tremendous game in her own right with two gold medals. Williams followed up a world championship silver medal with Matty Lee in the men’s 10m synchro two months ago by winning gold with Lee in the same event on Friday. After missing out on the synchronized Olympics due to Great Britain’s extremely deep and competitive diving team, Lee and Tom Daley winning an iconic gold medal, Williams has made the most of her opportunities in what has become one of the best seasons of her career.

This has been the best Games for England’s diving team, who left with 15 medals in total: six gold, four silver and five bronze. They even claimed an entire podium for themselves, with Daniel Goodfellow, Jordan Houlden and Jack Laugher taking gold, silver and bronze on the men’s individual 3m springboard podium. It is a reflection of the continued growth of the sport in the UK.

Earlier on Monday, there were further indications of Great Britain’s diving prowess as Scotland claimed their first diving medal of the competition, winning gold in the mixed synchronized 3m springboard, with James Heatly and Grace Reid holding off Australia’s Li Shixin and Maddison Keeney by just two points each become Commonwealth Champions.

Scotland's Grace Reid and James Heatly with their gold medals in the mixed synchronized 3m springboard

Scotland’s Grace Reid and James Heatly with their gold medals in the mixed synchronized 3m springboard Photo: Dave Hunt/AAP

As it stands, the mixed synchro is not an Olympic event, which Spendolini-Sirieix and Williams say allowed them to relax and enjoy the final competitive moments of the Commonwealth Games a little more. “I think because it’s not in the Olympics, some people take it less seriously. And it’s at the Commonwealth Games, so it’s not that no one will take it seriously here, but we can have a little more fun and enjoy ourselves more,” said Williams.

For the divers, there is no time to sit back and appreciate the progress they have made in Birmingham. They eventually want to take time off, enjoy the holidays and watch the summer, but there are more frontiers to conquer. The European Championship begins in Rome on Thursday, with Monday’s competitors getting just one day of rest before building up to a major event again.

“Now we have Europeans so I’m going to focus on that. After that I’ll take a break, take the summer break and then come back stronger,” Spendolini-Sirieix said.

Earlier in the day, the England men’s hockey team won an excellent bronze medal in an intense, dynamic match, beating South Africa 6-3.

Commonwealth Games action concluded in the afternoon with final medals for England and Scotland in squash. Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart of Scotland outclassed Eain Yow Ng and Chee Wern Yuen of Malaysia to win the men’s doubles bronze medal. Then, in an all-England match, James Willstrop and Declan James held off Adrian Waller and Daryl Selby 2-1 to win gold.

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