GLASGOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Ilia Zakharov and Evgenii Kuznetsov, one of the outstanding partnerships in diving, won their seventh European title together in a dramatic finale to the synchronised three-metre springboard on Friday.
One of the most eagerly-anticipated duels of the week at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool between the Russian world champions and Britain’s Olympic gold medallists Jack Laugher and Chris Mears lived up to its billing in the closest of contests.
Going into the last of the six dives, the British pair held a healthy 15.42 point lead but a fine dive — four-and-a-half somersaults — by Zakharov and Kuznetsov, which scored a day’s best 94.62, changed the complexion of the competition.
Laugher and Mears, under pressure with their last attempt, executed the same dive poorly by their standards, scoring only 78.66 which gave the experienced Russians, who totalled 431.16, victory by a mere 0.54 points.
It was a measure of revenge for Zakharov, the 2012 Olympic champion, who had been beaten into silver in the 3m individual event on Thursday by Laugher, who missed out on completing his own golden treble after his individual springboard double.
It ensured back-to-back European titles for 27-year-old Zakharov and 28-year-old Kuznetsov while Germany’s former world 10m synchro champion Patrick Hausding and Lars Ruediger took the bronze with 394.77.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge)