Commonwealth 3m Synchro medallist Freddie Woodward showed nerves of steel to capture gold in a thrilling 3m Springboard final on day two of the National Cup in Southend.
The 20-year old, who returned to form after a injury-disrupted 2015 by winning the 1m title on the opening day, scored a career-best 420.50 to deny Olympic finalist Chris Mears (419.50) by just one point.
The absence of World Championship bronze medallist Jack Laugher in the line-up left the door wide open for one for a promising youngster to step up to the mark.
And despite squeezing through the prelims in fifth place, Woodward warmed to the challenge in the final, scoring 78.75 for his penultimate dive then 74.80 for his final effort to leapfrog Mears at the last hurdle.
In truth, Mears dived below his best level and, having scored more than 450 on both the domestic and international stage in recent years, will still be in pole position should Great Britain capture a second quota place for Rio 2016.
But Woodward admitted he was over the moon with his start to the season in Southend, and has given the selectors something to think about.
“I came here looking for a medal of any colour and in either event and to win my second gold in a 15 point PB demonstrates that I am in a much better shape that I was last year,” said Woodward.
“I missed this competition due to injury last year and I found that tough but my time off has meant that I have been able to put in all the hard work that is necessary for a personal best performance. I feel like I am diving better than I have never done before. It is a really incredible feeling.”
Scottish diver James Heatly joined Woodward and Mears on the podium with domestic bronze on 385.90 while Jamaica’s Yona Knight-Wisdom was third on the day as a guest entry on 402.30.
Couch edges high class Platform final
Tonia Couch rode her luck to land a first individual domestic gold since the 2013 British Championships as she claimed victory in the women’s 10m Platform.
Having been knocked off top spot in the 10m Synchro on the opening day, finishing second with new partner Lois Toulson, Couch was in no mood to settle for second best again and took the title on 346.80.
Her former partner and her new partner joined Couch on the podium as 2014 European Champion Sarah Barrow claimed silver on 343.70 and 2015 British champion Toulson bronze on 340.40.
City of Leeds 16-year old Toulson had one hand on the title going into the final round, holding a three-point advantage over Couch and a higher tariff dive to finish.
But Couch took advantage of a below-par effort from the teenager, scoring 8.5s and 9s for her reverse 2 ½ somersaults with tuck to secure the title.
Slow start for Daley and Goodfellow
In what was no more than an exhibition contest, Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow showed there was still work to be done on their 10m Synchro partnership.
Competing for the first time as a pair, Daley and Goodfellow scored 387.99 in Southend as the only competitors in the field.
There were glimpses of potential in their list, including a score of 82.08 for their last effort, but scores in the sub 70s for both their third and fifth efforts prevented them reaching a score of truly international class.
City of Leeds’ Commonwealth champions Rebecca Gallantree and Alicia Blagg know plenty about international class, and captured the 3m Synchro title with minimum fuss.
A score of 298.02 was more than enough to see off the challenge of City of Sheffield’s Millie Fowler and Millie Haffety (261.75) while City of Leeds’ Lydia Rosenthall and Katherine Torrance (248.97) took bronze