MONTREAL – Three gold medals were allotted on Day 3 of the FINA World Junior Diving Championships 2022.  On Tuesday, Canada went 1-2 in the Girls’ 3m finals (for ages 16-18), led by Sonya Palkhivala.

Next, Italy’s Matteo Santoro won the Boys’ 1m finals (for ages 16-18) just ahead of the lone diver from Ireland, Jake Passmore.

To close the night, 15-year-old Charli Petrov teamed with Sam Olivier to win the Girls’ synchronised platform title ahead of Romanian and South Korean duos. For details, read on.

Girls 3m final (Group A – ages age 16-18)

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

In the Girls Group A 3m final, North Americans swept the podium. Canadian training partners Sonya Palkhivala and Katelyn Fung placed first and second, followed by Lily Witte of the US.

Palkhivala, 17, was the top qualifier after prelims and maintained her first-place position after each of the four dives in the final.

“I was expecting to…do my best and have fun,” Palkhivala said. “I felt WAY more pressure since I was first entering the final. I felt like there was kind of an expectation to keep that. I’m glad I managed to stay focused and didn’t let that get to me. It wasn’t until after my second dive [in finals] that I was like, ‘Okay, I have a chance” at a medal.

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

Palkhivala’s teammate Fung had been in eighth place after prelims and immediately jumped to second place on her opening dive in the final. Fung managed to stay just behind Palkhivala all afternoon, even though she was never more than five points ahead of a three-way battle for bronze.

“I try not to pay attention to the scores,” Fung said. “I just stay in my zone. I’ve been diving about 10 years now. I trust myself. I get on the board, I know what I’m doing. I can do it in practice, I can do it in competition.’

Fung’s last dive, an inward 2½ earned 64.50 points, the highest score of the 12-athlete final.

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

In training, Fung said, “Sonya pushes me beyond my limits. It’s a really great duo that we have going.”

Witte was only 0.65 points behind Fung before her final dive, a back 2½, which turned out to be her highest-scoring dive – but it had slightly less difficulty than Fung’s so Witte, 17, took the bronze, 6.3 points behind the silver medalist.

“I definitely exceeded [my expectations],” Witte said. “I was really happy to even be here. Then making finals?  Bronze is just like crazy to me!”

Boys 1m final (Group A – ages 16-18)

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

In the Boys Group A 1m event, one of the youngest finalists, 16-year-old Matteo Santoro of Italy, captured the gold. And while the Rome-based teenager had already won two gold medals at last year’s junior world championships in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday marked his first junior world title in the older Group A category.

But it was a wild ride.

Santoro was second after prelims and kept his lead after the first two dives in the final. Then, in the third round (of five), everything went upside down. Croatia’s Matej Nevescanin, who was 12th in prelims and the last diver to make the final cut, threw a reverse 2½ to overtake Santoro and the lead. After that plot twist, everyone sharpened up in a hurry.

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

Santoro regained his lead on dive 4, and finished strong to take the win. The lone Irish diver, Jake Passmore finished second – his highest ranking all day. Meanwhile, Max Fowler of the US clawed his way up from fifth place in the final to take the bronze.

Afterwards, Santoro considered his performance to be slightly sub-par by his own standards. “I was very nervous,” he admitted. “I was scared to do bad dives. I try always to have fun, but always my condition is [nervous].”

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

Fowler, 18, also sensed the tension during the final. To keep his cool, he said, “I just try to think: it either happens or it doesn’t, and getting nervous isn’t going to help. I do get nervous, though. I mean, I was shaking there.”

“Coming into it, I expected the Italian to win,” Fowler said afterwards. “He’s an incredible diver. I was talking with the Irish guy, [Passmore], throughout the event. He has an insane list. I told him he was underscored on his 107B [which earned 44.50 points and dropped him to fifth]. I thought they were too harsh on him on that. But they’re both really nice,” Fowler said of his European podium mates.

All three medalists will meet again on Thursday, in the Group A boys 3m event – which Santoro prefers “because it’s more fun,” he said. “But I love this pool, and I love Montreal.

Girls platform synchro (Group A/B – ages 14-18)

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

Charli Petrov, 15 and Sam Olivier, 18, closed the night by taking gold for Australia in the girls’ synchro platform event.

It wasn’t until the last dive, however, that they overtook Romania’s Ioana-Andreea Carcu, 17, and Nazanin-Adelyne Ellahi, 16, to seal victory by 6.78 points.

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

South Korea’s Han Jiwoo and Hyun Jiwon earned the bronze, 6.18 points behind runner-up Romania.

With Tuesday’s gold medal, not only did Petrov win her second junior world title within 24 hours of her first (in the Girls platform for ages 14-15), but she did it having barely trained with Olivier at all.

Image Source: FINA/Antoine Saito

In fact, the two women hail from different states: Queensland (Olivier) and Victoria (Petrov), and Olivier had never competed internationally in diving until this week. Yet after about two days of training, Olivier was listening to Petrov count them off the tower: “Ready, 1,2,3, Go!”

“I think we did alright, considering,” Petrov said with the gold around her neck, still clutching the stuffed animal that the Australian team dubbed “Barry the Beaver.”

Looking Ahead 

Wednesday will be the busiest day in Montreal, featuring four junior finals: Boys synchro platform where both age groups can mix (ages 14-18), Girls 3m (for ages 14-15), Boys 1m (for ages 14-15), and Girls 3m synchro (for ages 14-18).