Sheffield and Maltby divers win seven medals in World Masters

Sheffield and Maltby diving team from the  World Masters Championships in Budapest   from left to right; Shaun Tesh, Kev Davidson, Nikki Walker, Neeltje Sturman, Chris Long, Jane Cooke, coach Russ Preece, Michael Barnes
Sheffield and Maltby diving team from the World Masters Championships in Budapest from left to right; Shaun Tesh, Kev Davidson, Nikki Walker, Neeltje Sturman, Chris Long, Jane Cooke, coach Russ Preece, Michael Barnes

A team of seven Sheffield and Maltby divers landed a magnificent seven-medal haul, including four golds, in the World Masters Championship in Budapest.

Spearheading the assault was Michael Barnes from Maltby, who won three individual medals in the 35-39 years age group.

Sheffield's Jane Cooke (nee Smith), the formeer Olympic diver, won two golds on her return to competition after 12 years

Sheffield's Jane Cooke (nee Smith), the formeer Olympic diver, won two golds on her return to competition after 12 years

He won both the 1 metre and 3 metre springboard gold medals and took silver in the platform competition.

In the 3 metre competition, Michael scored 337 points, nearly 70 points ahead of the silver medallist William Blevins from the USA.

His highest score came from a forward 2½ somersault dive which was awarded 55 points.

Sheffield’s Jane Cooke (nee Smith) was also a double-gold medallist, becoming champion on both the 1 metre and 3 metre springboards in the 40-44 years age group.

As I watched my children divethe question popped into my mind whether I could still dive - so I decided to test myself

This was former Olympic and Commonwealth Games diver Jane’s return to competitive diving after a break of 12 years and she demonstrated her enduring quality by scoring highest of all the women in the championship.

Like Michael, Jane also won the 3 metre competition by nearly 70 points scoring 60 points with a back 1½ somersault with 2½ twists.

Jane said: “I retired from sport 12 years ago and I started training again only last year. My children do diving, as well and as I was watching them from the grandstands the question popped in my mind whether I can still dive, hence the idea to test myself.

“Since then we have been training in the same spot and we enjoy it a lot, it is now a hobby we share.”

“I am glad my family, including my parents, could accompany me, this was our first time here in Budapest. We might as well call it a vacation, we had a great time together and cherry on top, I finished first.

“Although the primary focus here was fun and entertainment, yet if you used to be a professional athlete, the drive to win is always there.”

Nikki Walker produced an excellent performance to take the silver medal in the 35-39 years platform event.

And Michael Barnes increased his personal medal tally to four when he teamed up with Shaun Tesh of Sheffield to win the bronze medal in the 3 metre springboard synchro competition.

Fine performances were also produced by Neeltje Sturman (Sheffield), Chris Long and Kev Davidson (both Maltby.

Neeltje improved her personal best score in all three events in which she competed.

Crucial to the success of the team was coach Russ Preece.

For many years Russ has been a linchpin of the South Yorkshire diving community, coaching weekly in both Sheffield and Maltby.

Russ said: “This was an outstanding team performance.

“All seven divers really stretched themselves to produce high quality dives under the intense pressure of international competition.”