Gallantree would consider swapping world gold for Rio ticket

Rebecca Gallantree and Alicia Blagg, front, during the Commonwealth Games women's 3m synchro final in 2014 (Picture: PA Wire).
Rebecca Gallantree and Alicia Blagg, front, during the Commonwealth Games women's 3m synchro final in 2014 (Picture: PA Wire).
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AS a newly-crowned world champion, Olympic qualifier and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, it would appear to the casual observer that Becky Gallantree has enjoyed the perfect year.

Yet it is actually mission un-accomplished for the 31-year-old for whom February’s Diving World Cup will be D-day alongside City Of Leeds team-mate Alicia Blagg.

Indeed, the diver admits she would even consider swapping her World Championships gold medal in the pairs event with Tom Daley for a pass to the Rio Olympics 3m synchro event alongside Blagg.

Blagg and Gallantree achieved their finest moment as a 3m synchro pairing at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when securing a brilliant gold.

But the duo are yet to seal qualification for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio and Gallantree knows the talented pair are running out of time – in more ways than one.

Wakefield-born Blagg is just 19, but Gallantree will be 32 next summer.

Even the brilliantly maturing new world champion knows next year’s Olympics will almost certainly be her last.

Indeed, the Essex-born star had considered retiring after London 2012.

And while Gallantree has already qualified Great Britain a spot in the individual event, it is the 3m synchro with Blagg that is considered the diver’s main event and the task closest to her heart.

February’s World Diving Cup, also in Rio, presents the last opportunity to qualify, meaning Gallantee has unfinished business heading into 2016 – even in spite of becoming world champion this summer alongside Daley in the new pairs event in Kazan.

“To be a world champion is pretty incredible really,” Gallantree told The Yorkshire Post.

“It’s kind of something that I never thought would happen to me. I didn’t really think I was good enough to become world champion and then I was in the right place at the right time. I did my dives well at the right time, alongside Tom, which was great and it was absolutely incredible.

“But it was never really a priority because it’s a new event for the World Championships and it’s not an Olympic event.

“So this year the main focus was on the Olympic events because at the World Championships that was the first chance everyone had to qualify spots for the Olympics.

“I was really gutted that I didn’t dive so well in the synchro as synchro has been the main focus for me really since London.

“It is really kind of heartbreaking to not perform well in the event that you have been putting so much in to.”

Blagg and Gallantree finished 10th, the same position that Gallantree filled in the individual event, which was enough to qualify a spot for Rio 2016, for which Gallantree will now have to compete.

And as far as the 3m synchro event goes, February’s Diving World Cup is her last-chance saloon.

Gallantree explained: “It was top three to qualify spots for synchro, but we have got another opportunity to do that at the World Cup in February, which is last chance for synchro, and there are only eight spots available for the Olympics because it’s a straight final.

“And actually really this year there is only seven spots because the Brazilians automatically get a spot as the host nation and they wouldn’t normally be in the top eight in my event.

“Three spots have already been taken by the medallists at this year’s World Championships and there’s one spot taken by Brazil, so there’s four more spots available.

“Whoever comes in the top four behind the countries that have already qualified in February will qualify for a spot, which Alicia and I are more than capable of doing.”