Cool heads prevail for Games diving bronze

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Murray Wenzel / AAP News

 

The dynmaic duo have captured Australia’s second diving medal from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

Diver Sam Fricker has thanked his partner and “coolest man ever” Shixin Li after they combined for a surprise bronze in the three-metre synchronised springboard final.

Competing together internationally for the first time, 20-year-old Fricker and former world champion Li, 34, produced a clutch final effort to hang on to third at Birmingham’s Sandwell Aquatics Centre on Friday.

It followed silver for Li in the Commonwealth Games one-metre springboard on Thursday.

“Always nervous … but today getting the medal, even third, I’m more happy than yesterday,” China-born Li said.

Li retired in 2014 and had turned to coaching before he was lured back to compete for Australia at last year’s Olympics.

Earning citizenship in 2019, he won bronze at this year’s world championships despite losing six kilograms while isolating with a serious case of COVID-19.

“Maybe next Commonwealth we’ll get a gold medal … yesterday second, today third, I think I’m just mi ssing a gold,” he smirked.

“Or maybe tomorrow I will retire.”

The pair notched 374.52 points across six dives, benefiting when Malaysian rivals clipped the springboard on their fifth dive, knocking them to the back of the five-team finals field.

England pair Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher (438.33) were a class above while a second Malaysian team claimed silver.

Fricker has a mass following on Tik Tok and runs a bio-degradable wheat straw company.

He will also compete in the 10m platform, but has added the springboard events after breaking his ankle and rekindling his love for the discipline while in recovery.

Fricker said Li had taken him aside for a word after the Malaysian mistaken had opened the door for them.

“Who knows in competition, anything can happen, so I reminded him to be patient, relax,” said Li, who still has two events remaining.

“I worry he gets too exited. You need to find a balance and he did very well on the last dive, it was very difficult.”

Fricker said he was “humbled and excited and really happy for Australian and Shixin”.

“He was like ‘stay calm … hold it together and execute’,” Fricker said.

“You’ve go t to calm me down, I get fired up. He’s the coolest man ever, super chilled, very relaxed and pulls me into his bubble.”

Three Australians will feature in the women’s one-metre springboard final while Domonic Bedggood and Cassiel Rousseau will represent in the 10-metre synchronised platform.

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