Popovici and Schmidbauer crowned first European high diving champions
2022 EUROPEAN AQUATIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
- From Thursday August 18 to Saturday August 20, 2022 (high dive)
- Roma, Italy
- Parco Del Foro Italico
- Meet Central
The very first European high diving champions were crowned on Friday and Saturday in Rome.
Now that high-level diving is present at the European and World Championships (since 2013), several medalists have called for the discipline to be included in the Olympics as well in the near future.
The most recent world championships in Budapest, however, did not feature high diving, as no facility could be constructed on short notice. This week’s action was only the second time top divers have competed on the FINA stage since the COVID-19 pandemic, with last December’s Short Course Worlds being the only other occasion.
The Romanian duo of Konstantin Popovici (455.70) and Catalin Preda (436.20) led the way in Saturday’s inaugural 27-yard final, with Popovici coming back from fourth place after two rounds to claim gold. It’s been a good few weeks for Romanian Popovicis in Rome.
The victory gave Popovici his first FINA gold medal at age 33. A standout performance appeared on the horizon last month when he triumphed at the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series stop in Copenhagen, his first win in three years.
To complete the podium, a local star in Italy Alexander of Rosewho came back from fifth place at the halfway mark.
27 meters men
- Konstantin Popovici (ROU) – 455.70
- Catalin Preda (ROU) – 436.20
- Alessandro de Rose (ITA) – 416.45
“This gold medal is very special for me,” said Popovici, who became the first Romanian to win a first place finish at a Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series stop in 2019. “I was the best today. I still feel a lot of pressure every time because my dives are always very hard. I concentrated a lot and today I made my best dives. I have known Alessandro for 10 years and Rome has been in my heart for ever. the 2009 Worlds when I competed in the 10m platform I’m not too emotional at the moment, too much adrenaline, but I’m happy to have made history today. Our sport is growing year by year, we even have junior competitions now, so the next step should be the Olympics sooner or later.
Preda echoed his compatriot’s sentiments regarding the addition of high-level diving to the Olympics.
“It was historic, the first edition of the Europeans and it was absolutely brilliant,” said Preda. “I’m happy to have been part of it and to have felt the energy of the crowd. It was a nice setup. It’s promising and great for promoting our sport. We have the Worlds and now the Europeans, Red Bull is also growing so the Olympics are a natural progression, hopefully sooner rather than later.
After beating a 38-year-old man Gary Hunt for the last place on the podium, de Rose credited his team while giving a nod to the London veteran who now represents France in international competition.
“This title gives me very strong emotions and what I mean is that it’s not my medal,” said de Rose. “I owe it to the whole Italian Federation, to our team manager Markus Stuppnerwho believed in this project, the staff and Orestes Varese. We wouldn’t be here without him. It is not an individual title, but the title of a whole team. Gary (Hunt) is a very strong opponent, he rarely makes mistakes, so this medal was completely unexpected.
Friday, Germany Iris Schmidbauer (309.30) overtook Italy Elisa Cosetti (295.40) in the final round to become the first winner of the women’s 20-metre dive. Schmidbauer’s 4.4 difficulty dive on his last attempt was the highest of the competition.
20 meters women
- Iris Schmidbauer (GER) – 309.30
- Antonina Vyshyvanova (UKR) – 295.40
- Elisa Cosetti (ITA) – 284.30
“I was hoping for a medal – I mean, who doesn’t want to go down in history first
European Championship?” said Schmidbauer, 27. “It’s crazy. I also find it really cool that there are eight of us, from so many different countries. It’s good to be more and more in this discipline, it’s becoming official and now we hope to be at the Olympics in the future!
𝐄𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 🔥
— LEN – European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 19, 2022
Ukraine Antonina Vyshyvanova was in fourth before her final dive, but she scored a near-perfect 94 points to take silver in fashion. germany Anna Baderbronze medalist at the 2013 World Championships when top-level diving made its debut in Barcelona, scored just a 62 on her last dive and missed the podium in fourth place.
“It’s really wonderful to have top-level diving at the European Championships,” said Vyshyvanova. “We all know each other very well, so it’s nothing new for us, it’s like a World Cup. This pool is amazing, the atmosphere is amazing, so I’m really happy to be here. It was a great competition, I’m very happy with the silver medal.
Cosetti, the youngest of the field by nearly four years, said she was more than happy with her result despite some nerves that caught up with her in the final round.
“It’s the first medal for Italy in high-level diving at the Europeans,” Cosetti said. “I am more than satisfied. I was ranked first until the last dive but still okay. Yes, I made a mistake but I really gave it my all today. I would like to thank Alessandro and Nicole, who is my coach, the whole team, the Federation and of course my family. I got interested in high level diving watching Alessandro de Rose and now his wife Nicole is my coach. The adrenaline is always there, especially in this sport but even more today. My legs were shaking as I made the last dive.
Due to the extreme demands of high-level diving, all participants received cash prizes, unlike the typical top three finishers.