Couch and Daley claim titles on the opening day of the National Diving Cup in Plymouth

duo Tom Daley and Tonia Couch

TONIA COUCH and Tom Daley both collected a gold and a silver medal in their first competitive outings since last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

The duo were among the star attractions in action on the opening day of the National Diving Cup, which was taking place at Plymouth’s Life Centre.

Plymouth Diving’s Couch won the women’s 10m synchro event with her Olympic diving partner Lois Toulson.

Daley, meanwhile, triumphed in the mixed three-metre synchro event with Grace Reid, scoring 260.91 points. The pair are the reigning European champions.

“It was really fun out there,” said Olympic medallist Daley. “Diving with Grace is always a little bit different and also because I’m diving springboard when usually I dive on 10m.

“It was the first competition back after the Olympics and it’s nice to be home here in Plymouth and come away with a gold.

“Diving in Plymouth is so much fun. I get to see my mum and my grandparents in the crowd so it makes it extra special.”

Second in the three-metre mixed synchro event were Plymouth Diving’s Kayleigh Sinclair and Aidan Heslop, who were only 17 points behind Daley and Grace. They scored 243.30 points, with Leeds’ Emily Bearpark and Joe Stocking third with 212.37.

However, Daley and Couch did not get the gold the Plymouth crowd were hoping for when they teamed up together for the first time in the 10m mixed synchro event.

The pair dived well for a first competitive outing together, scoring 304.26 points, but the Leeds duo of Toulson and Matty Lee produced an incredible performance on the night to take the title with 335.04.

Despite having to settle for second, Daley and Couch loved the experience of diving together and hope they can compete for Great Britain at international level in the relatively new event, which is part of this summer’s World Championship programme.

“It was so much fun,” said Daley afterwards. “I don’t think I have ever had so much fun and come second.

“It’s so nice to be able to dive with your best friend.”

He continued: “There’s always disappointment if you don’t win, but we know we have a lot of time to really nail down our training and I think we can be a great pair.”

Couch added: “We would love to do the World Championships and the World Series, but we just have to see. We have learnt a lot at this competition.

“I’ve done my list (of dives) times four today and we know not to do that again as I was absolutely knackered at the end. It is just a learning curve, but it was good fun.”

The pair enjoyed their rivalry with Toulson and Lee and believe that will benefit them in the long-term.

“There was good rivalry and it’s good to have that. In some competitions you don’t get that,” said Daley.

Couch added:  “To have a rivalry like that going into the World Champs makes you push even more.”

Elsewhere on the opening day of the championships, Olympic champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, as expected, won gold in the men’s three-metre springboard event.

Laugher also claimed the men’s one-metre individual competition.

Plymouth Diving’s Alex Kostov just missed out reaching the final of that event, finishing ninth overall in the preliminaries. His team-mate Alfie Brown was 16th overall in the prelims and 12th Brit.

Sinclair finished 11th in the women’s one-metre preliminaries.

The National Cup continues over the weekend. Helsop, Kostov and Brown will be in action in the men’s three-metre event on Saturday, while Cody Powell-Tuckett and Shanice Lobb will compete in the women’s 10 metre event on the same day, while European junior champion Matthew Dixon will be in synchro action with Noah Williams.

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