The First Gold Medal goes to … Australia!

KAZAN – The Australian Uniroos have registered the first gold medal of the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.

It was Uniroo Samantha Mills who surprisingly claimed the honours of the inaugural gold medal on the third day of competition when she snared the top spot in the Women’s 1m Springboard Dive.

“I didn’t really expect it. I knew that if I nailed my highest difficulty dive, that if I nailed it I knew I would have a chance of getting a medal”, Mills commented. But I didn’t want to get to excited or to ahead of myself.”

Adding to the delight, Mills was excited when she realised it was the first gold of the Universiade. “Everyone was like, you are the first gold medallist of the games, and I was like ‘Oh my god. I was walking around with a smile from ear to ear.”

Mills preparing to diveThe South Australian TAFE student’s early success momentarily gave Australia the bragging rights at Universiade, the Australian team sat on top of the medal table before being overrun by powerhouses China and Russia. In her first appearance as a Uniroo, Mills showcased her poise and world-class diving ability after qualifying seventh.

The Australian, Chef de Mission, Martin Roberts was thrilled with Australia’s first gold medal. “This is a great way for the Australian Uniroos to start the Games and has boosted the team’s spirit.”

After leading by 8.4 to China’s Dongjin Jia into the final round, Mills executed a back one and a half somersault with one and a half twists to finish with a score of 281,40 ahead of Chinese pair Dongjin Jia (277.75) and Olympian Liting Wang (271.45).

Coach Michael Martens acknowledged Mills’ training and dedication had paid off when it counted most. “There is always an element of risk involved when performing high value dives”, Coach Martens explained. “Samantha has performed this dive consistently in training and today proved that she can handle the pressure of international competition.”

Known as a three-meter specialist, she will have the chance to add more medals to her tally as she competes in the three-meter individual and synchronized spring-board competition later this week. With one gold medal, the Aussies sit 11th on the table after three days of play. —- (Photo: Leigh Ferguson, FISU YR)

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