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Wu leads four Olympians and five rookies to dive at Maria Lenk Stadium

29 June 2016

DIVING: A mixture of experience and excited debutants have been named in the diving section of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team today.
Five rookies, three Olympians off to their second Games and one Olympian off to their third Games make-up the five female and four male divers to wear the green and gold in Brazil.

At 24, Melissa Wu is considered a veteran and the Beijing 2008 silver medallist is off to her third Games and eager to return to Rio for the Olympics.
“It’s pretty exciting, I’ve worked hard all year. We had a great Test Event in Rio last February. It was a really good atmosphere and the event went really smoothly,” Wu said.

The Sydney based athlete is in career best form and focussed on performing to her best, after she finished fourth four years ago in London.
“The more you dive the more you learn from experience. I’m more knowledgeable than four years ago. I haven’t put too much focus on medals. I just want to dive my best.”

London Olympic silver medallist Brittany Broben will join Wu in the 10m platform where she will be looking to replicate her success from four years ago where she scored the country’s sole diving medal at the Games. The then 16-year-old was the youngest athlete on the Australian Team and nailed her final dive, a Back 2 1/2 Somersault 1 1/2 Twists Pike, to score 81.60 and win a well-deserved silver medal.

In the other women’s spots Maddison Keeney will strive for glory in the 3m springboard as well as the 3m springboard synchronised alongside London Olympian Anabelle Smith. Joining Keeney in the 3m individual will be exciting Olympic debutant, and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, Esther Qin.

Three debutants and one London 2012 Olympian feature in the men’s events for Australia. London Olympian James Connor and rookie Domonic Bedggood have been selected in the 10m platform, while Kevin Chavez and Grant Nel will compete in the 3m springboard.

For rookie Nel, the Olympic dream has been realised after almost two decades in the sport.

“It’s a dream come true. I’ve competed at many international events in the past 19 years, but this is the pinnacle,” the South African-born diver said.

“I got a call from David (Bell, CEO Diving Australia) to tell me I was in the Team and I was in tears, my whole family, my girlfriend, were all in tears.”

Nel took up diving after he broke both his hands at age nine doing gymnastics. His school had a physical education class in diving with the South African head coach, and so he made the transition. Nel and his family then moved to Victoria at the start of 2001, before he moved to train at the South Australian Institute of Sport with National Coach Michel Larouche last year. He finished first at the Australian Open Championships in May in the 3m springboard to cement his spot in August.

For fellow debutant Bedggood, a freak accident in gymnastics also lead to him taking up diving.

The 21 year-old had an unfortunate high bar accident as a child where he fractured his back.

“I can’t really put it into words but I will certainly be feeling that 10 plus years of dedication and effort will pay off in a big way,” Bedgood said.

Bedggood won’t be daunted by the big stage, already featuring in the medals internationally having claimed a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 10m platform synchronised alongside Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham. Since then he’s gone onto win a silver medal at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2015.

The 21-year-old has leant on some famous names for advice before he walks into the Athletes’ Village.

“One person who I have asked a lot of advice from over the last couple of years has been Mathew Helm (Olympic silver medallist). Mat is a high level coach and I was lucky enough to have him coach in Brisbane so he was always around to ask questions of.

“I’ve also spoken to Melissa Wu, James Connor and of course Matthew Mitcham as they have been diving for a lot longer than me and as I really respect their views.”

The selection of the nine divers, brings the Australian Olympic Team to 200 athletes, with the full team of more than 400 athletes expected to be finalised by mid-July. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

ANNIE KEARNEY
olympics.com.au

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