Jack Laugher and Chris Mears secured Team GB’s first ever gold medal on the diving boards making history with victory in the 3m synchronised springboard at the Olympic Games in Rio.
The pair didn’t falter at all increasing their score for each dive as they progressed through the competition. The same could not be said for Qin Kai and Cao Yuan who twice made errors including in their final dive resulting in them having to settle for bronze behind the relatively new Team USA partnership of Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon.
China went into the competition as favourites and took an early lead but on their third dive, a forward 2½ Somersault with 2 Twists, a mistake saw them slip down the table after a score of 79.56 with Laugher and Mears leapfrogging them, scoring 84.66 points for the same dive.
The final round of dives marred what was otherwise an enthralling competition. As Mexico began their dive the floodlights in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre turned on and led to a distraction that saw Jahir Ocampo affected resulting in poor execution and synchronisation scores.
Ocampo and his diving partner Rommel Pacheco immediately went to the judges to request a re-dive. At first it looked like they had been granted the re-dive but after a long wait on the boards their scores were read out for their first attempt and the decision on the re-dive was reversed. Protests continued but the judges had clearly made up their minds. Ultimately this would’ve had no impact on the medal places as the Mexican duo were already adrift.
The pair from the USA, diving third, climbed the steps to the diving boards immediately after this but the delay clearly didn’t affect them as they scored the highest score of the competition putting GB and China under pressure going into their final dives. Laugher and Mears required 87 points from their final dive but didn’t let the pressure get to them, scoring 91.2.
Due to the Chinese dominance so far at these Olympics and in almost all international competitions preceding this, everyone knew what they were capable so Laugher and Mears could not celebrate gold just yet. It’s not clear if the pressure of the occasion got to them but a mistake from the usually unflappable Chinese pair meant they only finished third.
As the scores came in and the results were confirmed, Laugher fell to the floor as tears ran down his cheeks.
The British duo who live and train together in Leeds added this to their Commonwealth and European titles.
The gold medal along with the bronze medal from Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow will build confidence in the team as the individual events begin on Thursday.