Diving: Fine reversal of fortunes

Twins Mark and Timothy Lee scored 362.31 points in winning the synchronised 3m springboard gold at the Singapore leg of the Fina Diving Grand Prix at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.
Twins Mark and Timothy Lee scored 362.31 points in winning the synchronised 3m springboard gold at the Singapore leg of the Fina Diving Grand Prix at the OCBC Aquatic Centre yesterday.ST PHOTOS: JEREMY KWAN
Jonathan Chan bettered his personal best in the 10m platform by nearly 80 points and expects this score to be his new benchmark. He learnt one of his dives - a reverse 31/2 somersault - only two months ago.
Jonathan Chan bettered his personal best in the 10m platform by nearly 80 points and expects this score to be his new benchmark. He learnt one of his dives - a reverse 31/2 somersault - only two months ago.ST PHOTOS: JEREMY KWAN

Jonathan Chan includes new dive in winning 10m platform, Lee twins take 3m springboard

Jonathan Chan first learnt to execute a reverse 3½somersault only two months ago.

He first tried it in a competition at the Kuala Lumpur leg of the Fina Diving Grand Prix series two weeks ago, finishing third.

Yesterday, the 21-year-old came in first in the Singapore leg of the grand prix series, outdoing himself and a field of five others that included an Olympic medallist.

He recorded a personal best of 438.55 points to win the men's 10m platform event ahead of Olympic silver medallist German Sanchez of Mexico (420.20) and Russia's Sergey Nazin (410).

"I am very happy with my performance," said the first-year Singapore University of Technology and Design undergraduate, whose previous best was about 360 points.

"The key was making sure I didn't let the nerves get to me, and not to overthink things, because things tend to go wrong when I do that."

Earlier at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, twins Timothy and Mark Lee earned Singapore a maiden gold after five years in the series.

In the men's synchronised 3m springboard, they totalled 362.31 points from six dives to pip Poland's Andrzej Rzeszutek and Kacper Lesiak (359.01) and Russia's Ilia Molchanov and Sergey Nazin (352.50).

While there were only three pairs in the field, there is no mistaking the pedigree of the Europeans. Rzeszutek was the 2009 European Junior Championships men's 1m springboard silver medallist and Lesiak won the event in the 2013 edition. Molchanov was part of a pair who won the synchronised event at the 2015 European Games.

The 24-year-old twins scored better than the 356.37 they managed in their fifth-placed finish at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August. It was especially encouraging for Mark, who had struggled in training recently.

The duo have until the end of the year to cut their weight to 70kg so that they can leap higher. But Mark dropped 6kg to 69kg in six weeks and his technique was affected.

"The way I use the board is totally different; when I press it, I feel it is not going down with me," he said. "It's something I struggled with."

Timothy said: "Technique-wise we have really been working on spinning faster and finishing our dives higher, along with fine-tuning the little things, like the way we look in the air and the positions of our toes and hands."

While national coach Li Peng, who joined the Singapore Swimming Association in April, was happy with the trio's performances, he said that they can be even better.

"I wasn't too happy with their progress in training after the Asian Games; they didn't reach my expectations. But I am satisfied with their performances in this competition," said the former Chinese national champion, who was part of the coaching team for the Chinese women's team from 2001 to 2005.

"From now to the World Championships next July, I will expect Tim and Mark to show significant improvements."

The medals have certainly given the divers a shot of confidence towards next season.

Chan said: "I guess this (score) will be the new benchmark... This is quite a big difference and I will push myself."

Mark added: "The season has been very confusing for me so far and this is the highlight. From here on out, it's just about climbing higher and higher."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2018, with the headline 'Fine reversal of fortunes'. Print Edition | Subscribe