Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley kicked off his international season with a dramatic at the 2013 FINA/Midea Diving World Series in Edinburgh.
After winning the morning prelim, the 18-year old landed gold after a topsy-turvy final, eventually scoring 542.15 to take victory at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
After below-par efforts for his opening two dives, Daley had found his rhythm by his third effort, receiving two 10s as he scored 102.60 for his back 3 ½ somersaults piked to take the lead.
Russia’s World Cup silver medallist Victor Minibaev – who finished one place behind Daley in fourth at London 2012 – pushed the Brit all the way, pulling to within 10 points of his rival ahead of the final round of dives.
But Daley held his nerve with the last dive of the competition, earning a roar from the sold-out crowd as he received another 10 for his reverse 3 ½ somersaults with tuck, ultimately scoring 92.40 to clinch the title by less than five points.
And the Brit admitted he couldn’t have hoped for a better return to the senior international stage in the venue where he will hope to defend his Commonwealth 10m and 10m Synchro titles next season.
“It’s great for where I am right now in my training cycle and the whole four-year cycle,” said Daley, who was overall World Series champion last season.
“To be scoring so high at this stage in the game isn’t quite surprising because I knew I could do it but it does come as quite a nice reward for all the hard work I’ve been putting in.
“I haven’t necessarily been seeing the rewards in training recently so to come here and dive well gives you that extra boost.
“It was quite a close competition from the word go really. I missed my first two dives which was quite frustrating but I had to have the
right mindset to keep going and believe anything could happen.
“Victor is an incredible diver – when he’s diving well, he dives very well. I knew I had to get 10s to stay in the competition and I just held that attitude for my last four dives.”
Daley’s training partner at Plymouth Diving Club, Tonia Couch was also in action on the final session in Edinburgh, competing in the women’s 10m platform final.
Olympic finalist Couch, who won the British title in February, was also competing at her first international of the season and impressed to finish fourth with 350.45.
China’s 14-year old world junior champion Si Yajie took victory on 405.60 ahead of 15-year old compatriot Liu Huixia (374.40) and Mexico’s Alejandra Orozco (367.45).
And while she also came fourth in the opening day’s 10m Synchro, Couch insisted she would take plenty of confidence away from the meet, having surpassed the 350 marker in both the semi-final and final in Edinburgh.
“I am really pleased with my performance tonight,” said Couch. “Fourth is a horrible place to come but I have never medalled at a World Series before so I am really pleased.
“I didn’t expect to score over 350 in this competition. I scored 360 at nationals in Plymouth a few months ago but coming into this international and getting 350, I am really happy.
“I have a lot more to prove, I am going reflect upon this score today and continue to work on my dives back home.”