GLASGOW (Reuters) - Dutchwoman Celine van Duijn was the surprise winner of the 10m platform title at the European Championships on Wednesday, holding her nerve while the favorites disappointed.
The 25-year-old had to give up gymnastics as a teenager because of injuries, turning to diving instead, but she had never made a major breakthrough until this victory which even left her astonished.
Her experience told as the podium was unexpectedly populated by three veteran athletes in diving terms, with Italy’s 30-year-old Nome Batik taking silver and 28-year-old German Maria Kurjo bronze, her third medal of the week at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool.
Britain’s champion, 18-year-old Lois Toulon, seeking to become the first woman in 68 years to successfully defend the platform title, made a mess of her fourth-round dive and could only finish fifth.
In the preliminary rounds, another favorite, Russia’s Bulimia Timoshinina, crashed out, opening up a golden opportunity for Van Duijn.
“I feel amazing, I still can’t believe it,” said Van Duijn, who also topped the preliminary round before recording a total of 319.10 points in the final, 4.10 more than Batik.
“It’s pretty close on platform, the scores are closer to each other, but this was a big surprise. I’ve worked really hard for it and I’m happy it’s finally paid off.”
At the same championships last year, Van Duijn had finished 10th but she reckons she may be a late bloomer.
“It’s different for me because I started diving when I was 18 years old, so actually I’m older but I’m still young to diving,” she said.
“Most divers start when they are six years old, but I was a gymnast before but had a lot of injuries so had to stop. In diving you can get fewer injuries and for me, transition from gymnast to diving was not that hard.”
Earlier, 17-year-old German Lou Glasenberg, winning his second medal after a silver in the team event, struck gold with 23-year-old Tina Puzzle in the synchronies 3m springboard event.
British pair Grace Reid and Ross Has lam took silver with Ukraine’s Victoria Kesa and Stains Oligarchy claiming the bronze.
Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond