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Smith, Keeney dominate syncro diving event

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Roger Vaughan / AAP News

The Commonwealth Games medallists are looking to make a minimal splash and earn their selections to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney are one step closer to Commonwealth Games redemption after their dominating win at the Australian Open diving championships.

Smith and Keeney won the 3m synchronised event in Melbourne on Thursday by nearly 50 points, rubber stamping their Birmingham and world championships selections.

That was despite Keeney suffering the recurrence of an ankle fracture a month ago, meaning they had to readjust their dives.

It was the latest in a series of setbacks for the Rio Olympics bronze medallists.

They went from the lead to last in the 3m final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when Keeney bombed her last dive with Smith.

Then they missed out on competing in the event at the Tokyo Olympics when Australia pulled out of a key qualifying event because of COVID-19 concerns.

“I guess, (we want) a bit of redemption – we’ve been so successful for so long, but we’ve had a couple of speed bumps along the way,” Smith said.

“We know how good we can be and it’s just about proving that on the world stage.

“It was really nice to put in a solid performance and prove we’ve still got it in us.

“We’ve definitely done our job now, so we just wait and see what the selectors decide to do.”

Smith will also compete in the 3m individual over the next two days at the championships.

She said they had coped well with Keeney’s latest injury problem, despite limited training.

“We’ve been together for so long, we know how to perform and we know what to do,” Smith said.

Sam Fricker and Shixin Li also won the men’s 3m synchro on day two of the championships, while Li dominated the 1m springboard event.

“It was a challenging comp, we had to fight for it. In the final, we couldn’t miss a dive,” Fricker said of their synchro win, which should be enough to give them Games selection.

“Is there something up in the air? Maybe – I’m not too sure.

“I just knew our job was to win and now the best thing I can do (for the rest of the championships) to make sure it is solid, is to dive the best i can.

“He’s an absolute legend … he’s always so generous with his time.

“He’s like a bit of a mentor to me when we dive.”

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