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Diving Wrap: Aussies make a splash

22 August 2016

DIVING: Australia’s 3m Synchro Pair of Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney were the first and most successful members of the Diving Team, claiming bronze with their final dive on the opening day of the Diving competition on Sunday, August 7.

The pair were in fifth place heading into their final dive, a forward two and half somersault one twist pike which put them into medal contention with only the Canadians yet to dive.

Smith said they were shocked and surprised when they realised what had happened in the final minutes of the competition.

“We both feel like we’re dreaming and it’s not really real because we thought we weren’t really in with a medal chance after our first couple of dives. But we obviously just had fun there and we hung on the whole time," she said.

“It’s crazy because I think we both thought that our last dive wasn’t that good, like I felt really far forward and I came up thinking 'oh I’m going to be so much farther forward than Madi' (Keeney) and then she said the same thing.”

Keeney said it was all about enjoying it once they thought they were out of medal contention.

“We saw we were in fifth place after the fourth round and just went out there and enjoyed it and Anabelle was like 'they (Canada) only need 69 points to come ahead of us' and in my head I was like 'that’s quite a bit'.

“The coaches are unbelievable; they’ve always got hope and they’ve always got faith and cheer us on and they always say don’t worry about it, focus on this dive and that’s what we did, and it was just awesome.”

On Friday, August 12, Keeney and Esther Qin competed in the Women’s 3m Springboard in the infamous “green pool” with both qualifying for the semi-final and final the following days where they finished fifth and sixth respectively.

“Experiencing something like this is what I have always wanted it has just been the most amazing thing ever and I am just going to take so many things away from this and use it to improve my diving,” said Keeney.

“I’m happy, it wasn’t my best round but I was consistent and I didn’t really have any big misses so I am happy,” said Qin. “My Coach is also very happy, top six in the world is a good result. I will just keep working hard."

On Monday, August 15, Grant Nel and Kevin Chavez contested the Men’s 3m springboard Preliminary Final in windy and challenging conditions. Nell qualified for the semi-final in 16th place with Chavez unfortunately missing out after finishing 26th with his performance below that of his training form.

“I was feeling really good, I had been training well, unfortunately I just had a bad day but I am determined to keep training hard and representing Australia,” said Chavez after his first international competition in two years.

Nel finished 15th in the semi-final and competition and had mixed emotions with his result.

“There were a lot of big hits and a lot of big misses in the competition today, everything was a bit off for everyone today to be honest,” said Nel. 

“I am pretty disappointed to be honest, I felt really good this morning. My coach Michel (Larouche) and I talked after the preliminary event just to focus on a few things, especially my takes off’s which were fantastic but unfortunately I missed two dives very badly.

“Unfortunately it was one of those days, I didn’t hit my PB’s and that is the way things go in diving sometimes”.

“It has been such a big achievement and honour to represent Australia at the Olympics especially when back in October last year I was in bed with a back injury for six weeks,” said Nel. “When I think back about that time, making the semi-final and coming 15th in the world at the Olympic Games is a pretty good achievement."

Wednesday, August 17 saw the competition shift to the 10m platform where Australia was represented by triple-Olympian Melissa Wu and debutant Brittany O’Brien who was a late call up to the team in place of Brittany Broban who was ruled out the week before the Games began with a shoulder injury.

O’Brien reached the semi-final and finished in 15th place with Wu narrowly missing the podium in the final finishing in 5th place.

“It was a really tough event,” said Wu. “To even be up in the top five, I'm really happy with - especially with the pressure of the Olympic Games. I’ve been getting better results and finally becoming more consistent in competition, too. So I think for me this just the beginning of finding how to compete and I will become a much better and more consistent competitor."

For O’Brien, the Olympic Games was certainly more exciting than Year 12 exams and the youngest member of the Australian Diving Team was happy with her event and experience.

“I didn’t think that I was going to be competing at the Olympics. It was unfortunate for Brittney (Broben) but I maintained my training since the trials and felt prepared coming into the competition,” said O’Brien.

“I was very nervous and very relieved at the end to see that I made it through to the semi finals and the Olympics has been a really amazing experience."

Wu was equally as delighted for O’Brien in her debut performance.

“It is amazing and such a great result, I am so happy for Britt,” said Wu. “We train together at NSWIS and it is so great to be able to share this with her and to see some of the younger generation coming through”.

The Men’s 10m Platform event involving Domonic Bedggood and James Connor began on Friday, August 19 and was hotly contested with several pre-competition favourites bombing out throughout the competition.

Dual Olympian Connor improved upon his results in London four years ago finishing 15th and debutant Bedggood reached his pre-Olympic goal of making the final and finished in 12th place.

“I am happy that I progressed further than four years ago but was disappointed to miss the Final,” said Connor. “I guess it is one thing to be able to do the dives and another to be able to step up and do it consistently on the world stage.

“If I had of had a performance like I did in the preliminary final, I would have been pretty close to making the Final which was obviously my goal but maybe sometimes you maybe want it too much and unfortunately it didn’t go my way."

For Bedggood, just participating in the Olympic Games was an unbelievable achievement having broken his back in a gymnastic accident in 2010 and he achieved his pre-Games goal of reaching the final, but walks away disappointed in his performance.

“Coming into this competition, my coach and I had the goal to make the final and we have done that but I am very disappointed in my performance in the final,” said Bedggood. “I know I am capable of better, I’m just trying to take this as experience, fuel the fire for the next four years”.

“I thought everything was technically there, just a few little things to work on to really improve those dives, so I guess that’s what the next four years are for.”

Jo Banning

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