LIMA, Peru – After scoring silver in the women’s synchronized 3-meter springboard, the USA Diving duo of Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz showed off their individual skills in the women’s 1-meter springboard final on Friday at Videna Aquatic Center. Bacon earned top honors, securing gold with a score of 284.10. Schultz finished 4.65 points behind, earning her second silver of the Pan American Games Lima 2019.
The men’s synchronized 10-meter platform duo of Olympian Steele Johnson and newcomer Ben Bramley finished 7.20 points shy of a medal in fourth place.
After three rounds in the women’s event, Mexico’s Paola Sanchez and Delores Hernandez sat in first and second place. Bacon and Schultz sat third and fifth – behind by 5.95 and 11.00 points, respectively. However, in round four, Sanchez and Hernandez had scores of 46.80 and 48.00, respectively, the ninth and eighth best dives of the round. It left the door open for the U.S. to step in.
“I didn’t pay too much attention to their scores,” Schultz admitted. “Obviously you see them here and there. But I was in my own little routine, I definitely saw my name climb up the leaderboard dive by dive.”
Bacon, on the other hand, knew she had a chance.
“I absolutely saw that door open for me,” she said. “I dive really well under pressure. Once that door opens I usually like to take the opportunity to gain some points or gain some spots up there. So that’s what I did.”
Bacon and Schultz’s round four dives of 59.80 and 64.20 were the second-best and the best dives of the round.
Heading into the fifth and final dive, Bacon had the confidence needed to clinch the gold.
“I was just relaxed,” she said about climbing up onto the springboard. “I took a deep breath, I just wanted to relax and get a good hurdle on it. After the hurdle I knew that if I got off the board, I would be able to hit the dive. So, I just focused on the hurdle, took a deep breath, and went.”
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Bacon scored a 59.80 on her final dive. Her forward two and a half somersault from the pike position was the second-highest scoring dive of the round.
While the confidence may have been there for Bacon, Schultz needed to find hers again after a ninth-place showing in the preliminary round.
“My prelim wasn’t really what I was hoping for,” she said. “I just wanted to stay composed in finals and take it one dive at a time. The results were going to take care of themselves, and I’m very pleased with my finals performance. So I couldn’t be happier.”
Schultz entered the competition holding the highest average difficulty of dives at 2.85. Her dive of choice for round three – a reverse two and a half somersault from the tuck position – was rated a 3.0 in difficulty. It was rated the most difficult dive of the event – 0.4 points higher than the next-highest dive.
“I’m comfortable doing it there,” she said about placing the dive third in her order. “[It’s] not too soon in my order. So, I get those initial jitters out of the way. I just feel confident putting it third.”
After scoring the eighth-best and sixth-best dives of rounds one and two, Schultz scored 57.00 on her difficult dive, a full 3.00 points higher than the next-best score. She backed that up with an equally impressive reverse one and a half somersault, one and a half twist dive from the free position. Her score of 62.40 in round four helped keep Sanchez from reaching second place by one point after the final round.
“I didn’t realize how close it was until the last round,” she said. “It’s always interesting to have a close competition.”
It wasn’t as close of a competition in the men’s synchronized 10m platform. Mexico’s duo of Ivan Garcia and Kevin Berlin scored the highest dives in four of six rounds of dives, finishing 34.98 points ahead of second-place finishers Vincent Riendeau and Nathan Zsombor-Murray of Canada.
Johnson and Bramley looked to be in prime position to stand on the podium after the first two rounds, but a costly mistake in round three ultimately cost the duo a medal spot. Johnson said the come-out was at fault, when Bramley “rolled by on the bottom, ducked his chin, and went long.”
“I was hoping to execute it better for sure,” Bramley said. “Steele dove great. If I had stepped up and hit that dive we hopefully would’ve medaled. But, all around, good experience. [I’m] going to take this and use it as motivation moving forward for training, the upcoming season, and the next year.”
The pair improved on each successive dive. While waiting for the final scores, they hugged each other, showing the chemistry that resulted from months of training.
“It’s incredible to see him come back from a miss like that and put points back on the board,” Johnson said of his younger partner. “A lot of people would miss like that and continue to miss. But, he’s mentally tough, he knows what he’s doing. It’s a learning experience to come to a big meet like this and have a huge miss. You go home, fix what you need to fix, and come back stronger.”
“It’s just been great working with him,” Bramley said. “Because, obviously he’s a silver medalist in the Olympics in synchro. So, having the opportunity to dive with him has been phenomenal for me.”