sport

Barrow and Couch retain title

Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch retained their national 10 metre synchro title with a British record in Plymouth on Friday.

The European champions proved their class, in front of a sell-out crowd at their home pool, to beat their own national record with a score of 327.66.

This week's British Gas Diving Championships are the pairing's first competitive outing since they narrowly missed out on a medal at the London Olympics.

Since then Barrow has returned to live in Plymouth, after studying in Leeds for the past couple of years, and allow her and Couch to spend more time to train alongside each other.

They have undergone six-day training weeks since September as they aim to find the final ingredients to sneak on to the podium ahead of this summer's FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

The initial signs looked good today, highlighted by high scores for their difficult inward three-and-a-half somersaults, as they finished well clear of second-placed Becky Gallantree and Jenny Cowan.

"Since I moved to Plymouth and since the Olympics we've been focusing on our optionals," said Barrow. "Being able to practice them together every day has definitely helped with them.

"It helped competing in our usual pool as well because we know where our spots are. When you go away, you've only been training at a pool for three or four days before an event.

"So, for me, I felt nervous but comfortable I knew where my dives were."

Oliver Dingley provided the surprise of the opening day as he won the one-metre springboard ahead of London Olympians Jack Laugher and Chris Mears.

Dingley was the defending champion - on a height not used in Olympic competition - but Laugher had gone in as favourite after claiming silver at last year's Junior World Championships in Adelaide.

Mears also memorably reached the Olympic 3m final in London but both were narrowly edged out by Dingley's 385.30.

Laugher was just 0.55 points back in second with Mears having to be content with a bronze medal.

"It's a great feeling. I kept my cool and in the end it paid off," Dingley said.

"There was a lot of pressure and it came down to the last dive. I was shaking. I knew what I had to score and I did it in the end."

Alicia Blagg smashed the British record to win the women's 1m final with a score of 273.15

The 16-year-old City of Leeds diver is hopeful her performances this weekend will help convince British Diving performance director Alexei Evangulov to include her for the upcoming World Series, when the best divers from around the globe are on show.

"I'm really happy with that performance. A British record and a personal best," she said. "In the next couple of months I've got the World Series hopefully and then the World Champs."