By Will Downing
Ireland’s first Olympic diving competitor for 68 years became a finalist, but not a medallist, as Oliver Dingley took a very creditable eighth place in the men’s 3m springboard final at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Stadium in Rio.
Cao Yuan won for China ahead of Dingley’s former British teammate Jack Laugher, with a significant winning margin of 24 points.
Dingley got off to a solid start, scoring 74.4 points for his opening attempt, a forward 3.5 somersaults pike.
It left him in fourth place at the end of the first round.
The 23-year-old fared even better with his second attempt, a forward 2.5 somersaults 2 twists pike.
It impressed the judges too, awarding him a spectacular 81.6 points – however, it still left Dingley in fourth place, 2.1 pts behind Evgeni Kuznetsov in the bronze medal position.
More high points were yielded from Dingley’s third dive, an inward 3.5 somersaults tuck. The 76.5 awarded saw the Harrogate native climb to within 0.2 points of the medals.
Such was the early quality of Dingley’s performance that he could justifiably be considered unhappy with the score from his fourth round try, 69 points, and it cost him dearly.
The Olympic debutant crashed to eighth place in the standings, 24 points off the medals, due to others starting to get their A-game going and his own comparatively low tally for round four.
The pattern continued into the penultimate round, with Dingley maintaining his position, but scoring 61.5 points for a reverse 2.5 somersaults pike.
Ireland’s first Olympic diver since 1948 has always managed to pull out his best dive he last round, but it would have taken something exceptional to surpass his second effort.
As it was, his back 2.5 somersaults 1.5 twists pike was rewarded with a very solid 79.9, to see him round off the competition on 442.9 points.
He was 55 points off the medals, but still heartened by his first Olympic final.