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Keeney ready to inspire Rio diving team

25 July 2016

DIVING: Nerves are no longer a problem for Australian diver Maddison Keeney - and just as well.

The 20-year-old would otherwise be very anxious after national coach Chava Sobrino claimed Keeney was our best Rio Olympic diving medal chance.

There is plenty of pressure on world No.4 Keeney at Rio as the only member of Australia's nine-strong Olympic diving team to contest two events - the 3m springboard and 3m synchro.

In the past, it would probably have sounded alarm bells for Keeney.

One of diving's most gifted athletes, she had also been one of the most nervous.

A stutter and fall off the springboard cost her a medal at the 2015 world titles, sadly becoming a YouTube novelty hit.

She also balked at Glasgow Commonwealth Games, costing her gold.

But Sobrino said Keeney was up for the Rio challenge as Australia looked to grab a diving medal at their fifth straight Olympics.

"That is gone. She is very strong mentally as an athlete now," Sobrino told AAP.

"She was very young when all that happened.

"But she kept working hard and strived for excellence after all that - she has matured.

"She is one of our best medal chances."

Australia may boast Beijing gold medallist Melissa Wu and London runner-up Brittany Broben but Keeney is their X-factor.

Her tall frame can exact unprecedented height on her dives, giving her the best chance to execute the highest degree of difficulty - and points.

YouTube footage may show what happens when Keeney gets it wrong, but Sobrino reckons people will take notice when she finally gets it right on the international stage.

"She's an amazing athlete, very gifted," he said.

"She is probably the strongest competitor in the women's field.

"If she gets it right, expect good news."

Keeney will contest the 3m synchro with London Olympian Anabelle Smith.

Australia's Esther Qin and Samantha Mills claimed 3m synchro bronze at the 2015 world titles, ensuring Australia earned a spot in the event at Rio.

But Keeney and Smith were picked to contest the 3m synchro at Rio after upstaging Qin and Mills at the Melbourne trials.

"They deserve their chance. I think that is another good chance for a medal over there," Sobrino said.

Australia have won 12 Olympic diving medals including three gold - Matthew Mitcham (2008), Chantelle Newbery (2004) and Dick Eve (1924).


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