O’Brien goes from ‘very done’ to silver

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Murray Wenzel / AAP News

 

The Aussie diver has surged her way into the silver medal of the women’s 1m springboard.

 

A year after being “very done” with diving, Brittany O’Brien has a Commonwealth Games silver medal.

The 24-year-old was beaten for gold in the one-metre springboard on Friday in Birmingham by Canada’s Mia Vallee, 291.85 to 279.60.

O’Brien nailed a reverse two-and-a-half somersault with her fourth effort to surge from 19 points behind and started the final round level with the Canadian.

Vallee had the event’s last dive and delivered, but O’Brien was happy with second considering her mindset 12 months ago.

“I was going to quit entirely, but my coach convinced me to go to springboard (from the platform) and here I am,” she told reporters at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

“It was more mental; I would just stand there (on the platform) and cry.

“It was a year ago and I was very done with diving, apparently not (anymore).”

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games are now firmly in O’Brien’s sights.

“I feel like I can’t get too much worse, hopefully,” she said.

Esther Lee missed her shot at a third-straight bronze in the event when her last dive missed the mark and she finished sixth.

Georgia Sheehan, the 2018 silver medallist, had a higher score than on the Gold Coast and finished fifth, in a sign of how the discipline has progressed.

Earlier Sam Fricker 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.

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 missing a gold,” he smirked.

“Or maybe tomorrow I will retire.”

The pair notched 374.52 points across six dives, benefiting when their Malaysian rivals clipped the springboard on their fifth dive to knock them out of medal contention.

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

Fricker said Li had helped his composure.

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

“You’ve got to calm me down, I get fired up. He’s the coolest man ever, super chilled, very relaxed and pulls me into his bubble.”

In the night’s final event, Domonic Bedggood and Cassiel Rousseau won bronze in the 10m synchronised platform.

Barely a point separated them from Canada (412.56 to 413.85) in second while England (429.78) took gold.

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