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Newton's Gracia Leydon Mahoney wins gold at FINA World Junior Diving Championships

Posted by Laura Franzini  October 10, 2012 02:23 PM

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USA's Gracia Leydon Mahoney is a junior world champion.

The 16-year-old captured gold in the girls group A 3-meter final at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships in Adelaide, Australia on Wednesday, according to a USA Diving press release.

She scored 463.10 points to edge China's Zheng Qulin, who took silver with 460.40 points. 2012 Olympian Hannah Starling of Great Britain finished with 457.55 points and bronze.

"It feels amazing. Having the support of my teammates really helped me to perform my best and made the whole event more exciting," Leydon Mahoney said.

After her victory, her teammates surrounded her, chanting "USA" before throwing her in the pool.

According to the press release, Leydon Mahoney, who finished eighth in the preliminaries, was in fourth place with one round of dives to go. She responded with 73.95 points on her reverse 1-and-a-half and 2-and-a-half twists, earning a pair of 9s from the judges. The 73.95 was the highest score by any diver throughout the final and enough to push her to the top of the standings.

"[Going into the last round] my heart was beating a little faster than the other rounds, but I took a couple deep breaths and relaxed and did the best I could," said Leydon Mahoney, who won her first senior national title on this event at the AT&T National Diving Championships in August.

She earned at least one mark of 8.0 on each of her other dives in the finals, scoring 60.75 points on her inward 2-and-a-half tuck, 61.60 points on her back 2-and-a-half tuck, and 68.60 points on her reverse 2-and-a-half tuck.

"[I told her to] put the blinders on and focus on preparing for each of her dives, and that's exactly what she did," coach Tracey Bird said. "I knew she had the capability and if she put it together in the meet, it would be hard to beat."

Leydon Mahoney also represented the United States in the 1-meter event on Tuesday. She advanced to the finals and scored 407.40 to finish fifth.

Laura E. Franzini can be reached at laura.franzini@globe.com.

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