A former gymnast has helped provide a spring in the step for the Australian diving team at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Alexandra Croak – who competed in artistic gymnastics at the 2002 Commonwealth Games – combined with Melissa Wu to win 10m synchro diving gold on Sunday.
It was world No.2 Australia’s first diving gold in Delhi after Canada grabbed the first two on offer – women’s 3m synchro and men’s 1m springboard.
Pint-sized Wu stood tall with former gymnast Croak (335.76) to finish ahead of Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Mun Yee Leong (328.38).
Australia’s Briony Cole and Anabelle Smith (325.50) took bronze.
Wu and Croak improved on the 10m synchro silver they won at Melbourne 2006.
And it helped Croak enter a very elite club.
“My coach (Salvador Sobrino) just told me that I am first (Australian) person to get medal in both sports,” Croak said.
“I am honoured and extremely proud of my achievements.”
At Melbourne, Croak became the first Australian to win medals in consecutive Commonwealth Games in different sports.
She won gold and silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in artistic gymnastics, and the 10m synchro silver at the 2006 edition in diving.
She was only the third Australian athlete, and first female, to even compete at the Commonwealth Games in different sports.
It was a night of milestones at the diving.
Australia’s Olympic platform champion Matthew Mitcham said he was happy with silver after Canada’s Alexandre Despatie won his third straight 1m springboard Games gold.
He not only became the first man to complete the three-peat, he also moved to seven gold overall – a record for a Canadian athlete at the Games.
He surpassed the six gold won by Canada’s rhythmic gymnast Alexandra Orlando and swimmer Graham Smith.
“I am absolutely in awe of him,” Mitcham said.
“It feels like gold, that’s how happy I am to win my first Commonwealth Games medal.
Despatie became the youngest gold medallist in Games history when he won the 10m platform at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games aged just 13.
Australia and Canada dominated the diving in Melbourne, splitting the 10 finals evenly with five gold each.
And they again look like the teams to beat in Delhi.
Canada’s Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans dethroned defending champions, Australia’s Sharleen Stratton and Briony Cole, in the opening diving final – the women’s 3m synchro.
Cole and Stratton took silver and Australian teammates Jaele Patrick and Olivia Wright bronze.
Canada then claimed the 1m springboard thanks to Despatie who finished ahead of Mitcham and Australia’s Scott Robertson.
But Croak helped Australia fight back in the 10m synchro.
However, it could have been all so different.
A back injury forced Croak to miss the national selection trials in Perth in July, ensuring some anxious moments for her diving partner Wu.
“We had to wait until they announced the team and see if they put us together in synchro – luckily they did,” Wu said.
NEW DELHI – 11/10/2010 7.25am [AAP]