KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - Rachelle Simpson kept her nerve to win a thrilling women’s high-diving competition as the United States took gold and silver at the world championships on Tuesday.
Simpson, a 27-year-old former gymnast, was forced to wait on the 20-metre platform for several minutes as the scores from the penultimate diver, her compatriot and defending champion Cesilie Carlton, failed to appear on the main scoreboard after a television problem.
But Simpson kept her composure to score 102.00 points, creating little splash on entry with her highest-tariff dive, to finish with 258.70 points.
Carlton claimed silver, 21.35 points behind, and Belarus’s Yana Nestsiarava took bronze.
”I didn’t really know what was going on,“ said Simpson of her lengthy wait. ”I was sitting in a good place and I just wanted to get the dive off.
“Usually I am sitting second or third in events so it was a bit more nerve-racking.”
Since women’s high diving first appeared on the world championships program in 2013, the United States has taken both World Cup series titles, Simpson winning in Kazan in 2014 and last year in Cozumel, Mexico.
With more competitions on the world series circuit, high diving also has aspirations to join the four other aquatics sports in the Olympic program.
International Olympic Committee officials were first present in Barcelona to see its introduction at the world championships.
The 2024 Games is the next occasion when it could be added to the Olympic program.
“It is definitely a possibility,” said Simpson. “The men are looking pretty good, but if we can get a few more women involved it would really help our chances.”
The men’s high-diving final concludes on Wednesday from the 27-metre platform. Britain’s Gary Hunt currently leads after the first three rounds on Monday.
Colombia’s defending champion Orlando Duque sits in 11th place.
Writing by Rod Gilmour; Editing by Neville Dalton