Teenage diving sensation Lois Toulson is making a splash after winning women’s 10m platform gold at the European Games in Baku, writes James Cann.
The 15-year-old from Cleckheaton was taking part in the inaugural event in Azerbaijan and scored an unbeatable 456.70 to take the top prize, beating Russia’s Anna Chuinyshena and Germany’s Elena Wassen.
The City of Leeds diver was the pacesetter in the preliminary rounds but her sixth and penultimate dives saw her slip to second, behind pre-competition favourite, Yulia Timoshinina of Russia.
A stunning first dive of 71.40 in the finals had Toulson on her way but she saved her best dive for last, producing a back two-and-a-half somersault, one-and-a-half twists scoring 84.80 to take top honours, the dive was voted the best of the competition.
After taking gold, Toulson said: “I was following the Russian (Anna Chuinyshena) who had just done the same dive and done it quite well too, so I was definitely feeling the pressure.
“I just tried to keep calm and to do what I had been working on in training and it worked out perfectly. It was my best dive of the night.”
“My heart was beating fast and I had so many nerves, but you have to find a way of calming them. I was concentrating on me and not on what other people were doing.”
Toulson had struggled with a thumb injury two weeks before the European Games at the European Championships in Rostock, Germany and was unable to qualify for the finals, finishing 14th.
Her return to form means that she now has the honour of being named both European and British 10m platform champion this year after winning the British Gas Diving Championships in Plymouth back in February.
She said: “I couldn’t have imagined being British champion and European Games champion at the start of the year.
“It is good to know it’s worth all the hard work when you come to competitions like this.”
The teenager had finished sixth during her first senior international at the Gatineaux Grand Prix in Canada in April, toppling some of the world’s best along the way.
Her focus now turns back to the big stage with the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, next on the list for Toulson. They get underway on Friday, July 24.