India’s Ramananda Sharma won the host nation’s first gold medal in diving at the ongoing 10th Asian Age Group Championships at Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru.

Sharma secured 300.80 points in the 1 metre spring board event for open category men to win the gold while his compatriot Siddharth Pradeshi bagged the bronze medal with a total score of 272.25 points. Valipour Mojtaba of Iran took home the silver medal in this event.

Indian divers also added three silver medals to India’s totally tally of 52 medals won in swimming which comprised of 15 gold, 19 silver and 18 bronze medals.

“It’s extremely exciting to participate and also win in front of our home crowd. We have been training under Cuban coach Salazar Despaigne who was a semi-finalist at the Sydney Olympics in 3m spring board. We have improved tremendously under him and we are confident of a good show here,” said Sharma after winning his gold medal.

Sharma had won 1 gold and 1 silver in the previous edition of Asian Age Group Championships held in Uzbekistan while Pradeshi had won 3 gold medals.

Speaking about an upsurge in Indian divers performance, Pradeshi said, “For the first time in 34 years, India had participation at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year. There, Ramananda and I finished 6th in 3m spring board synchronised diving and I also finished 6th in 1m spring board individual event. Working under coach Salazar has helped us a lot. His technique and work ethics are on par with other nations who are dominant in diving. Our performance at 2018 Asian Games has given us a lot of confidence to do better in International meets. We are very confident if we continue like this we stand a chance of making the qualification for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

In the 3m synchronised diving for men (group A and B combined), Satish Kumar Parjapati and N Willson Singh bagged a silver medal with a total score of 217.26 ahead of Thailand’s Thitipoom Maskin and Conrad Yoseph who scored 216.75. Yang Ling and Zhu Yongxin of China won gold in this event.

Palak Sharma of India won silver in 1m spring board for girls group C with total points of 186.70 points while Sudirman Nur Nufidah of Indonesia bagged the gold and Wai Ki Chan Hong Kong won bronze. In the same event for group C boys, Invider Sairem of India won silver with total points of 269.45 while Sugimoto Ruon of Japan won gold (274.65 points) and Jamshidi Mohammad of Iran (232.70) won bronze.