SATURDAY: Sheffield diver gets sinking feeling

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SHEFFIELD’S Nick Robinson-Baker and team-mate Chris Mears suffered a blow to their Olympic ambitions last night as they missed out on the podium at the European Diving Championships.

The three metre synchro pairing finished fifth behind world championship silver medallists Russia at the Pieter van den Hoogenband Centre in Eindhoven.

The Britons arrived in Holland on a high after recording a lifetime best 436.74 last time out at the World Series in Mexico.

They were beaten only by the all-conquering Chinese to catapult them into Olympic calculations.

But after two below-par rounds yesterday, that returned a best score of 391.05, they were outclassed by a world-standard field.

“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board and look at where we slightly messed up in the final here,” Robinson-Baker said,

“We have to get the finer points correct before that Olympic final.

“I think the Olympics are 75 days away, we’re working towards that.

“It wasn’t our day, but in 75 days it might be.”

It was far from doom and gloom, though, with Mears pointing out their Mexico result would have been good enough for silver last night.

“If you look at the scores our total in Mexico would have got us second,” he said.

“We know we have it in us. Mexico proved that. It’s just up to what happens on the day.”

Mears warned, though, that they could not rest on the Mexico performance.

“That World Series dive was our best and we have to build on that,” he said.

“That’s what I’m thinking about when I go to bed at night - knowing we can do that.

“We’ll keep working hard and if we do that there’s a better chance it will happen at the Olympics.”

They must first negotiate next month’s Olympic trials before confirming their London place, although only an unexpected result would deny them a ticket to the Olympic Aquatics Centre.

Their failure to reach the podium, however, meant Britain’s medal tally remained at the history-making gold in Thursday night’s women’s platform synchro.

Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow ended Britain’s 74-year wait for a female European title, but with two days remaining only Tom Daley looks set to add to that tally in the men’s platform tomorrow.

Despite that the future of British diving was given another boost last night when teenagers Alicia Blagg and Rhea Gayle reached the non-Olympic 1m springboard final.

Blagg, 15, missed the final two years but qualified fifth yesterday with her international-best 255.95.

She could only claim a nervy 11th in the final though, a place behind international debutant Gayle, as Sweden’s Anna Lindberg secured her fourth European crown.