Redemption for Laugher as divers make biggest splash

The City of Leeds Diving Club celebrated arguably the finest day in their history yesterday as three of their star pupils earned gold medals at Glasgow 2014.

England's Jack Laugher during the men's 1m springboard

A club that has regularly provided nearly half the English and British squads at major events for the past few years can hardly have had a better day as Jack Laugher, Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree all became Commonwealth champions.

Laugher, 19, of Harrogate, confirmed his great form this year and that the ghosts of London 2012 are firmly behind him by emphatically winning the 1m springboard.

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His club-mates Chris Mears and Yona Knight-Wisdom – who represents Jamaica – finished fourth and fifth while the City of Sheffield club’s Freddie Woodward, 19, underlined the strength in depth of diving across the county by finishing 10th.

Then Blagg, 17, of Wakefield, teamed up with 29-year-old Gallantree to claim gold in the 3m synchro, a result that came as a shock to the 2012 Olympians.

But it was the confirmation of Laugher’s growing reputation in the sport that was most heartening.

Two years ago he slipped off the board when attempting to qualifying for the 3m springboard event in London, with the enduring image being of him slapping the water in frustration.

But he has quickly put that behind him with a string of impressive performances ahead of Glasgow, which culminated in winning a bronze at the World Cup meet in Shanghai earlier this month.

Last night, though, it was the gold medal that was hanging around his next after he romped to victory with a score of 449.90 for his six dives in a discipline that serves as a warm-up to his main event, the 3m springboard.

“It feels absolutely amazing, I’m almost lost for words,” said Laugher, who also contests the 3m synchro with club-mate Mears tomorrow.

“To score almost 450 points on the 1m springboard is amazing, I’m absolutely ecstatic.”

On banishing the demons of London, he added: “You have to learn from those experiences. You learn from your mistakes.

“It was a horrible experience but I made the most out of it.”

For Blagg and Gallantree theirs was an unexpected triumph. The duo had resumed their five-year partnership only earlier this month after being separated by injuries.

Third after the fourth of five rounds, a score of 72.54 for their forward 3 1/2 somersault resulted in a total of 300.24 and gold ahead of crestfallen Canadian pair Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware.

“I just can’t believe it,” said Blagg. “That last dive it was either a medal or no medal. We had no idea. We thought we were in fourth or fifth. To do that dive and then see the scoreboard ranked first it was the best moment of my life. Just disbelief.”

Gallantree said: “To do it in that situation, when it really mattered, is just amazing.”

Former City of Leeds diver Sarah Barrow won a silver alongside Tonia Couch in the 10m synchro.