Hometown heroine Grace Reid wins European gold in Edinburgh

Grace Reid after winning the gold medal. Picture: PA
Grace Reid after winning the gold medal. Picture: PA
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Hometown heroine Grace Reid delivered under pressure to become European champion in the 3m springboard final with a magnificent final dive lifting her from the bronze position to a glorious gold.

It says much for what the 22-year-old has already packed into her career since her major debut as a 14-year-old at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi that she was reluctant to place it at the pinnacle even though it was achieved in her second home of Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool, which is hosting the diving element of the Glasgow 2018 aquatics championships.

“That’s a tough one. It’s probably up there in my top three,” said Reid after collecting her gold medal to add to the silver she picked up in the mixed synchro earlier in the week. “The [Gold Coast] Commonwealths [where she won 1m springboard gold in April] were extremely special, the [Rio] Olympics, you know that it is just up there. There is a long list.

“There was the special element, it being my home pool, seeing friends and family, seeing signs from my university friends saying ‘Go Grace’... the whole atmosphere round the pool really lifted me today.”

After qualifying for the evening final in second, Reid built through the five rounds but even after a 74.40 score from her most difficult penultimate effort it looked like the former George Watson’s College pupil would have to settle for a minor medal as she trailed Great Britain team-mate Alicia Blagg and Germany’s Tina Punzel.

However, the Scot nailed her final dive, a forward two-and-a-half somersaults with twist, racking up 73.50 to leap to the top of the standings on 329.40, to the delight of her home city crowd.

“I started off well but maybe not as strong as I would have liked but I knew that my last two dives would be solid for me,” she said.

“No medals are won playing safe so I gave everything I had and it came off today.

“In diving terms if you play safe you hold back a bit and are a little bit tentative. I was just thinking about my technical points and giving all my energy to the board today.”

Reid will return today in the women’s 3m springboard synchro with Katherine Torrance and admitted that competing in a place she knows so well had given her a lift.

“In the past I might have found it a bit daunting,” she said. “The pressure may have affected me and made me more nervous. But this time I didn’t see it as a pressure but as an asset. The home crowd, everyone rooting for me... I tried to let that help me for sure.”

Today’s event means that Reid will have to keep the celebrations on hold. “I was saying earlier I would really like to be done and have a pizza but unfortunately not,” she said. “I have to refocus again and the first thing is recovery and anti doping and up tomorrow in the women’s synchro.”

This year has seen Reid defer her studies at Edinburgh University to move to London and work full time with Tom Daley’s coach, Jane Figueiredo.

“It’s a fresh page and a new opportunity,” she said. “Doing full-time education and full-time diving, travelling all over the world, it’s not possible at the moment, I haven’t worked out the balance. I wanted a bit of a change.

“The opportunity to live in London at 22 years old is very special and to work with Jane, who has coached Olympic medallists in my event, was a big draw. I love her enthusiasm. All the British coaches are fantastic and I’ve been fortunate to work with [Scotland’s] Jan Leeming who was fantastic as well. I’ve enjoyed having new outlooks on things, trying new things and developing.”

Miami-based Yorkshirewoman Blagg hung in for silver to make it a British 1-2 ahead of Punzel.

“It wasn’t a case of winning. It was about performing. The medal was a bonus,” said the 21-year-old, who also won silver in this event at the Commonwealth Games.

“I didn’t see Grace’s last dive. She was close. But it was a shock because I didn’t think I’d beat Tina.”