Watson and Dingley create Irish diving history in Tokyo

by Stephen Findlater

NATIONAL Centre Dublin divers Tanya Watson and Oliver Dingley both landed Olympic places this week from the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo.

Watson, who on Tuesday became the first Irish female diver to qualify for an Olympic Games, finished her competition with a score of 295.50 points in the 10m Platform semi-final.

Improving on the 271.85 points achieved in the preliminary round, the 19-year-old’s semi-final score is the highest she has ever posted in a FINA competition.

This has come despite a tumultuous 12 months, in which Watson has seen her normal training pool in Southampton, closed for long periods during lockdowns.

Watson has spent much of the past year at National Centre (Dublin) training with  Dingley and Clare Cryan under Ireland’s National Head Coach for Diving, Damian Ball at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre.

Dingley, meanwhile, needed to finish in the Top 18 in the 3m springboard to achieve automatic qualification for his second Olympic Games and secured 15th.

The National Record-holder scored 399.75 points in the preliminary round, advancing to the semi-finals, which take place on Thursday morning from 2am and could yet see him improve his final position.

Reflecting, Damian Ball, National Head Coach for Diving, said: “Another fantastic day and some top class performances from our divers.

“Ollie’s experience was clear today, he was consistent, confident, and hardly put a foot wrong. 16 months of no competitions hasn’t seemed to phase Ollie at all.

“Tanya dived with passion and enjoyment in her debut World Cup semi-final. Two points was all that separated her from a spot in the final. The remainder of this season could be very promising for this young talent.”

For Watson, speaking after her qualification, she said: “It has been a really emotional time for me and I just got it together at the right time.

“After this last year, from everything being postponed, and living away from home for so long, I am very grateful that I was able to qualify Ireland a spot for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“It wasn’t perfect, I need to work on dive two [of five], but I am excited for the semi-finals and for what’s to come this summer.

“I cannot thank enough everyone who helped me get here.”

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