Round up of Cambridge University Olympians: Week 2 – Diving disappointment for Cantab Powell

Cantab Bleasdale through to Olympic final 12 August 2012

Cambridge astrophysicist Stacie Powell (pictured above) suffered disappointment on Wednesday, after narrowly missing out on a semi-final place in the opening round of the Olympic individual 10m platform diving event.

Disappointment for Week 2’s other Cambridge Olympians Julia Bleasdale and Annie Lush in their respective events meant ‘Team Cambridge’ finished up with 2 gold medals and 2 bronze medals at London 2012, after four Cantab rowers did their alma mater proud at Eton Dorney last week.

Errors in two of her five dives meant Powell, 26, could only manage a score of 287.30 points, finishing in 20th place in the preliminary round on Wednesday evening. This was despite Powell heading into the Olympics in good form having won the British title in June.

Fellow Team GB diver Monique Gladding, who suffered a horrific head injury at a competition in Russia last year, was also eliminated, finishing just ahead of Powell in 19th place. Only the top 18 divers made it through to the semi-final on Thursday morning. The best 12 divers from the semi-final then progressed to the final in the evening, where in the end, the gold medal went to Ruolin Chen of China.

Speaking after her elimination on Wednesday, Powell said: “I was really pleased with the way I came back. With the second dive I kicked out just a fraction too early and it really cost me.

“Diving is such a brutal sport and split seconds can make all the difference. If I was a 10th of a second later I would be in the semi-final so that is how tight it was.

“I was really pleased with my dives after that and I thought I came back well but I just left myself too much to do.”

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Powell on Wednesday. She revealed: “But I did have some good news as I found out in the morning that my paper has been accepted into the Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society Journal so I am really excited about being a published author.”

“That means my paper will be used by future people who will cite me in their research, so while the diving wasn’t great at least I have this to fall back on. I have to look at the positives.”

Powell, who came 8th in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was also optimistic about her future in diving.

“I definitely know that I have the confidence to do those dives and in training that dive has been so much better than that which is why I am so annoyed with myself,” she said.

“But I know I can come back stronger and I just have to work on my consistency so that in the future things like that don’t happen and that I can stay focused and confident on all of my dives.”

Born in Bristol, Powell is currently studying for a PhD in Astrophysics at Churchill College, having completed a Masters in Astrophysics at Harvard University. Speaking about how she juggles her training with a PhD, she said, “I often read papers when I have a spare minute at the pool. The internet helps a lot, so I can do my work from anywhere, even when I am away at competitions.”

Meanwhile, Annie Lush (Emmanuel 1999), and team-mates Lucy and Kate MacGregor, were knocked out at the quarter final stage of the Women’s Elliott 6m sailing event on Wednesday.  The British crew lost 3-2 in their best-of-five series against the Russian crew.

Team GB were initially leading 2-1 after three races, and thought they were through to the semi-finals after believing they had narrowly taken the fourth race. However, officials gave the race to Russia, and even after an hour and a half of looking at video footage after the British crew appealed, the race jury upheld their original decision. Russia went on to win the deciding race.

Speaking after the fifth race, Lush said: “We had very high expectations for this regatta, that makes it even more disappointing, it’s been a very frustrating regatta.”

Lush studied Geography at Emma, and rowed in the winning crew of the 2001 Women’s Boat Race, before making her career in sailing.

The British crew ended up with an overall ranking of 7thfor the entire event, after Thursday’s sail-offs for places 5 to 8 were cancelled due to low winds at the Weymouth venue. Results from the preliminary round-robin stage were used to decide these rankings instead. The gold medal was won by the Spanish crew, who beat Australia 3-2 in the final on Saturday. Finland took bronze.

Completing a medal-less secondweek for Team Cambridge at London 2012, Julia Bleasdale (Pembroke 2000) came 8th in the Women’s 5,000m final on Friday evening, finishing just behind British team-mate Jo Pavey and 10 seconds behind gold medal winner Meseret Defar of Ethiopia.

The result came after a very impressive run in the first round, where Bleasdale ran a personal best time of 15min 02.00sec.

Michael Yoganayagam – Associate News Editor

Photo – Stacie Powell

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