Gold is just the starter for Willars Valdez

Mexican diver Willars Valdez is hungry for more success after winning the gold medal in the men’s 10m platform.

Picture by IOC/OIS

Moments after winning gold in the men’s 10m platform at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday, diver Randal Willars Valdez (MEX) was already thinking about how to expand his medal collection. The 16-year-old topped the field at the Natatorium with a total score of 609.80 ahead of Lian Junjie (CHN) and Russian bronze medallist Ruslan Ternovoi.

But it will be a short celebration for the Mexican, who aims to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and does not want anything to slow down his momentum. “I want to enjoy and celebrate this medal now, and then go back to Mexico to train more and win more medals,” he said. Willars Valdez had the highest-scoring individual dive of the final, after judges awarded him 97.20 in the fourth round, but he is confident he can do better.

“I have to train more because there are always some mistakes. I have to work on them because I’m not always going to be at the same level. I know I have the talent, technique, training and capacity.” Winning has also cemented Willars Valdez’s preference for the 10m platform compared to the 3m springboard event, in which he finished fifth on Sunday. “I like the adrenaline of jumping from up high, especially from platforms, and the feeling I get whenever I jump,” he said.

Men’s 10m platform medallists (from left) Lian Junjie (CHN), Randal Willars Valdez (MEX) and Russia’s Ruslan Ternovoi (Thomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC)

For silver medallist Lian, coming second added to his disappointment at finishing 10th in the men’s 3m springboard. “I’m disappointed because I came here to win a gold medal, and so it doesn’t feel very good to get silver,” the 17-year-old said. Rather than dwell on what could have been, Lian is already focusing on the future: “When I go back to China I’m going to train even harder so I can get the gold.”

Russian diver Ternovoi is also hungry to sample first place after winning bronze in the 10m platform and 3m springboard. “I’m happy with bronze, but I would have of course been much happier with the gold,” he said.

The battle for the last diving medals will take place on Wednesday, with 28 divers competing in mixed international teams consisting of one male and one female athlete.