Plymouth Diving's newcomers shine in narrow Armada Cup defeat to Sheffield
PLYMOUTH Diving's Andy Banks praised the club's emerging stars for producing a closely-fought Armada Cup competition at the Life Centre.
A Plymouth side without their senior divers were just narrowly pipped to the overall winners' title by a strong Sheffield side.
Olympians Tom Daley, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow were omitted through either illness or injury from the popular annual four-day dive fest.
But Banks said the city's up-and-coming athletes had 'stood up to be counted against many of the best divers in the United Kingdom' only to lose out on the team title by 14 points.
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The Great Britain coach also praised the organisational skills of the Life Centre's staff and many volunteers for helping make 'Plymouth's second major diving event inside two weeks such a great success'.
Earlier this month, Plymouth's multi-million pound sports venue had staged the British Gas Diving Championships where Daley, Couch and Barrow had all won gold medals and national titles in their first outing of the year.
And Banks said even without his big hitters, the past four days had shown the quality of talent bubbling beneath in the Life Centre pool.
Banks said: "We are all delighted with the Armada Cup. Our young and perhaps lesser-known divers all did us proud.
"It's a pity we couldn't have won the Armada Cup, but Sheffield came en masse and so our guys deserve a lot of credit for pushing them all the way.
"The likes of Shanice Lobb, Kayleigh Sinclair, Matthew Dixon, Victoria Vincent, Robyn Birch, Danny Bates and Ollie Piper all showed that we can score points and win stuff without major players like Tom, Tonia and Sarah in the line-up.
"Tom was excused duty as he's still suffering from a bad cold and Tonia and Sarah both had back niggles, so didn't take part.
"It was great to see so many people here again, both competing and watching from the galleries.
"I lost count of how many times our facilities and organisation by Everyone Active and the diving volunteers was praised by visiting teams' officials.
"And with Brewin Dolphin supporting us as our major sponsor for the Armada Cup once again, we're well looked after.
"There are so many positives to take from the event, it would have been nice to win it, but it's been a fabulous competition."
The final two days found Plymouth divers in fine form.
Yesterday Dixon won a gold medal for Plymouth in the boys' C platform final, scoring 225.20 points. Dixon had also medalled on Saturday, coming second in the boys' C one-metre final scoring 122.75 points.
He was sandwiched between gold-medallist, Leeds' Anthony Harding (125.40) and Bron Jenkinson (116.60) of Sheffield.
There was first and second for Plymouth in the girls' B one-metre final, with starlets Lobb and Sinclair winning gold and silver, yesterday
Lobb totalled 152.40 points and Sinclair 147.95.
There was a podium-topping performance, too, yesterday for another of the host club's excellent young divers, Vincent, who took the girls' C three-metre final with 143.75 points. Vincent, who has moved to Plymouth from London, also came second in the girls' C platform final with 135.95, having won the one-metre final on Friday.
On Saturday, Sinclair and Lobb, who had won the synchro together earlier in the competition, were on the podium for Plymouth in the girls' three-metre final.
Sinclair won gold with 171.40 points and Lobb bronze (129.50) with Sheffield's Sarah Leach securing silver on 133.90 points.
Ollie Piper called the shots in the boys' B three-metre final yesterday, posting 161.85 points to win the gold medal. Piper also took silver in the boys' B platform final.
Plymouth Diving took first and third in the boys' under-13 one-metre synchro. Connor West and Aidan Heslop won, with Ben Bluett and Thomas Davis third.
There was an impressive display in the men's platform final from Danny Bates. Bates ran away with the gold, with a score of 181.90 points, which was well ahead of Sheffield's Jack Haslam in second with 159.00.
There was also platform success for Robyn Birch in the women's event.
Birch, another youngster to swap London for Plymouth, finished on 185.20 ahead of GB junior star Geogia Ward, who took second with 158.15.
Bates and Birch, along with many other winners over the weekend, had their awards presented by Olympic star Daley, who, although not fit enough to dive, was around to offer tips and pose for pictures with the next crop of young divers.