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Newbery springs towards Diving team

08 Feb 06 23:15

Robert Newbery is hopeful of being selected for the Commonwealth Games Diving team.

Robert Newbery is hopeful of being selected for the Commonwealth Games Diving team.

Husband and wife diving combination of Robert and Chantelle Newbery have both moved closer to Commonwealth Games selection with the couple claiming victory in their respective finals at the Australian Open Diving Championships.


Athens Olympic gold medallist, Chantelle won the women’s three-metre springboard event to seal the deal on her selection for her second Games team, with the hopes of repeating her gold medal winning performance in Kuala Lumpur.


The 28-year-old veteran, who missed the Manchester Games after giving birth to son Jet, had been in doubt for a place on the Melbourne team after finishing third in her favoured ten-metre platform event behind teenager Melissa Wu and Loudy Tourky.

 

“It’s great to win a National title – which is actually quite rare for me and to cement my place on the team is a relief,” she said. “I started my career on springboard and to come back and dive that well is exciting and I’m really looking forward to the Games.”

 

Chantelle’s score of 665.10 left her easily clear of second-placed Swede Anna Lindberg on 628.80 and likely Games rival Canadian Martha Dale on 619.05.

 

Brisbane teenager Sharleen Stratton, who picked up the win in the one-metre springboard earlier in the week, came in fourth, ranking as the second highest Australian.

 

But emerging star Bree Cole, who dominated the three-metre springboard throughout last year’s international competition, and was considered a strong shot at a Synchro gold alongside Stratton, will give selectors a headache after finishing eighth in the final.

 

She joins veteran Irena Lashko in a nervous wait to see how selectors will fill the rest of the 12-person team.

 

Meanwhile, Chantelle’s husband Robert was in superb form against synchronised partner and Athens Olympic Games silver medallist, Mathew Helm as they went head-to-head in a sensational showdown in the men’s 10 metre platform.


Robert, already locked into a Games place with wins at the championships in the three-metre springboard and three and ten metre Synchronised diving events, giving him an excellent shot at picking up the gold which has eluded him in Manchester and Kuala Lumpur.


“It was quite a competition out there with Mat and I’m just happy to put together a consistent performance,” Robert said. "Matthew is really at the point where he should be winning and he is not winning yet. He will be soon enough."


Australia’s platform ranks with Brisbane 17-year-old, Matthew Mitcham landing four of his six dives to show his potential in a tight fourth placing behind Malaysia’s, Bryan Nickson.

But the Games hopes of Mitcham’s three-metre Synchro partner Scott Robertson are also in the hands of selectors on Sunday.


Australia’s leading divers will now head to Sydney for the FINA Southern Cross Diving Grant Prix at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, from 13 – 15 February.

The Australian Commonwealth Games Association will name the team to take the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre pool from 22 March - 25 March on 12 February 2006.

 

Sharleen Stratton perfoms exceptionally well at the Australian Diving Championships.

Sharleen Stratton performs exceptionally well at the Australian Diving Championships.

DAY THREE--Brisbane teenager Sharleen Stratton has demonstrated the future of Australian Diving is in safe hands with an outstanding performance at the Australian Diving Championships.

 

One night after 13-year old Melissa Wu blitzed the 10-metre platform competition, Stratton turned in a personal best to take out the one metre springboard competition.

 

She posted a score of 629.50 to hold off four-time Olympian and Manchester gold medallist Irina Lashko, who could only muster a 610.80 score, with Sweden’s Anna Lindberg coming third with 585.95.

 

The win was her second gold of the championships, after teaming up with Briony Cole to claim victory and a Games berth in the three-metre Synchronised Diving.

 

“It’s really amazing, I am so excited right now, all the training is finally paying off,” said Stratton following the competition. “I have been really hoping to make this team and have been training really hard. Definitely doing synchro with Bri [Cole] and coming first really helped take the pressure off, giving me the confidence to do really well here tonight.”

Olympic Bronze medallist Lashko’s second-place performance means she will wait nervously until the official team is named on Sunday to learn whether her comeback challenge to compete in front of her home crowd will land her a spot on the 12-person squad.

 

Lashko, who only challenged her one-metre speciality, has appealed for selectors to consider her for inclusion in the team, despite their decision to fill the second and third places in the one-metre event at the Games with qualifiers from other heights.

"I can't do anything but the way I dived it was not bad for this stage. However, it's up to them, it's not up to me,” she said. "But good luck to the selectors, they won't make a mistake when they select me."

There were no surprised in the men’s three-metre Synchronised Springboard, where Olympic Games bronze medal winning pair Robert Newbery and Steven Barnett outclassed their opponents to take out the event with a score of 463.65.

Newbery said with Barnett’s planned retirement after the Games, the event in Melbourne will be a swansong for their extremely successful diving partnership that began in 2001.

 
“It’s going to be great, we’re very lucky to have a home crowd too, it’s an exciting event and also very sentimental being the last one we will do together,” Newbery said. “We can look back on our synchronised career and see we’ve had a great time diving together and had some great results for Australia.”

Scott Robertson and Matthew Mitcham look to be the team to replace them at the top, coming in second at the championships, and just 42.45 points behind the winners. The Malaysian team of Ken Nee Yeoh and Roslan Rossharisham came in third with 394.50.

 

Loudy Tourky placed second in the National Diving trials behind Australia's youngest competitor, Melissa Wu.

Loudy Tourky placed second in the National Diving trials behind Australia's youngest competitor, Melissa Wu.

DAY TWO--Melissa Wu has qualified for a role in Australia’s Commonwealth Games Diving team after an outstanding performance at the national trials in Melbourne.

 

Just 13-years-old, Wu performed exceptionally well against her more experienced rivals Chantelle Newbery and Loudy Tourky to win the 10m Platform event at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre with a score of 694.50.

 

The Brisbane teenager, who stands at just 135 centimetres tall and weighs a tiny 28 kilograms, became the youngest diver in Australian history to win a national open title and looks set to be Australia’s youngest competitor at a Commonwealth Games.

 

Official selection for the Games team will take place on 12 February 2006. Divers who place first and second in the individual events will receive automatic qualification if points requirements are successfully met.

 

Tourky followed in second place with a score of 692.95 while rival and Synchronised partner Newberry came in third at 685.65, just missing out on automatic selection for the Games team.

 

It was a disappointing finish for Newberry who won Australia’s first Diving gold medal in the same event at the Athens Olympics.

 

Chantelle Newbery will have a second chance at automatic selection when she competes in the 3m Springboard event on 8 February 2006.

 

Robert has already all but sealed his spot on his third consecutive Commonwealth Games team after finishing second in the men’s 3 metre Springboard final behind Japan’s Ken Terauchi.

 

Manchester bronze medallist Newbery performed consistently finishing on a score of 879.95 with the in-form Terauchi blazing away with some world class dives to take out the Australian Open title on 946.30 points. Brazilian Castro Cesar finished third on 846.40.

 

The event was also a landmark performance for Brisbane teenager Matthew Mitcham (791.35) who looks to have also cemented a place on his maiden Games team for Melbourne after finishing in fifth place.

 

It will mark the second international breakthrough for the 17-year-old who made his major Australian team debut last year at the World Championships in Montreal.


Steven Barnett has finished as the highest ranked Australian diver at the Australian Open Championships.
Steven Barnett has finished as the highest ranked Australian diver at the Australian Open Championships.

DAY ONE--Athens Olympic bronze medallist Steven Barnett has become the first Australian diver to make the Commonwealth Games team, after finishing as the highest ranked Australian diver in the Men’s 1-metre springboard competition at the Australian Open Championships in Melbourne.


The apprentice electrician, with a twelve dive total of 754.80, finished third behind Malaysian, Ken Nee Yeoh (826.10) and German, Pawel Rozenburg (762.15).


Barnett, who won a bronze in Manchester, says his second consecutive Games will be the last competition of his diving career.

 
“I am definitely ready to retire. This [Melbourne] is the place to go out in my home country and to be competing in front of a home crowd will be just incredible,” Barnett said.

“It’s just a happy feeling to be on the team for one last time and after 22 years in the sport what better way to finish off.”

The Sydney 26-year-old has been in strong form since Athens, including a 2005 highlighted by a fourth placing at the World Championships in Montreal in the 3 metre Synchronised Springboard with Robert Newbery.

“Of course I’d like to get on the medal dais in Melbourne but in saying that I am not setting any specific goals,” he said. “Having won a medal last time I would really just like to better that performance.”

There were no surprises in the Women’s Platform Synchronised final with the World Championship silver medal winning pair of Loudy Tourky and Chantelle Newbery taking out the title in an impressive five dive display of 323.46. The pair of Carlie Gidman and Nicole Ng were second on 258.63 points.

Athens Olympic platform gold medallist, Newbery and bronze medallist, Tourky are set to showdown against arch rivals, Canada in the event at the Games in March.

 

Earlier, pairing Sharleen Stratton and Briony Cole picked up the win in the women’s 3 metre synchronised springboard event with a new Australian record.

Members of both teams will need to qualify individually to make the  but will firstly be looking to officially qualify for the Commonwealth team in individual events later in the week, but the Synchronised result gives them a strong start.

 

 “The Commonwealth Games is really exciting and although qualification is not a certainty for synchro it certainly helps. We still need to dive well in our other two events, the one and three metre,” Cole said.

“We train together at the same complex while most teams live in different states making it easier but it’s always an ongoing thing and we are always fine tuning our style and techniques.”

The Australian Open Diving Championships continue at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre until 7 February.


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