GWANGJU, South Korea – It had been 14 years since an American woman had won an individual 10-meter medal at the World Championships. Delaney Schnell (Tucson, Ariz.) put an end to that with a bronze-medal performance Wednesday night at the FINA World Championships. It was USA’s fourth medal of the championships.
Schnell became the first U.S. woman to reach the podium on an individual Olympic event at a World Championships since Laura Wilkinson won the 10-meter gold at the World Championships in 2005.
Schnell finished with 364.20 points to place third behind China’s Chen Yuxi (439.00) and Lu Wei (377.80). She edged Australian Melissa Wu by four points to claim the bronze. USA’s Amy Magaña (Indianapolis, Ind.) also qualified for the 10-meter final and finished 11th with 305.00 points.
In sixth place after two rounds, Schnell moved into third with 82.50 points on a back 3 ½ tuck in round three. That’s a dive that has given Schnell trouble, but on Wednesday it proved to be a pivotal moment in her competition.
“That’s actually that’s one of my struggle dives. That’s the one, when I hit that, I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ That was such a sigh of relief. It’s definitely one that I have to work harder on,” Schnell said.
It was then that she realized she had a chance to come away with a medal.
“Normally I’m not aware, but when I hit my third dive, my back 3 ½, I knew that I was in the race after seeing where I was placed. Then it was just keeping myself calm, not trying too hard,” Schnell said.
With two dives to go, just 2.05 points separated third from fifth. Schnell’s fourth dive, a front 3 ½ pike, went for 70.50 points and dropped her to fifth, but the contest remained close. Schnell was just 1.2 points out of the bronze medal spot.
She closed out her list with 76.80 points on an inward 3 1/2 tuck and then waited to see if her score would hold up. It was enough, by four points, to give Schnell the first U.S. medal in women’s platform in 14 years.
It was Schnell’s first World Championships final, and she credited her coach, Dwight Dumais, for helping her get through it.
“My coach is really good about telling me how to stay calm, because with a final like this there’s a lot of adrenaline and it’s very easy to overthrow and try too hard on dives. It was really just trying to keep myself calm,” Schnell said.
Schnell’s medal was the fourth won by U.S. divers at the World Championships. Sarah Bacon (Indianapolis, Ind./Minneapolis, Minn.) won silver on 1-meter. Katrina Young (Shoreline, Wash./Tallahassee, Fla.) has a pair of bronze medals – one with Murphy Bromberg (Bexley, Ohio/Austin, Texas) in synchronized 10-meter and one with Andrew Capobianco (Holly Springs, N.C./Bloomington, Ind.) in the mixed 3-meter/10-meter team event.
“It really set the pace when Sarah won the silver. I think it really set the pace for everyone. I’m not the only one who’s been diving well. It’s really exciting to see everyone getting the Olympic spots and medaling. This has been a really good year for us,” Schnell said.
So far, the U.S. has secured five Olympic spots, with the possibility to pick up an additional four more on Thursday and Friday.
Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through July 24. Thursday’s competition begins with Bacon and Brooke Schultz (Fayetteville, Ark.) in the women’s 3-meter preliminary, with the semifinal to follow. David Boudia (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) will compete in the men’s 3-meter final on Thursday evening.