Profile of a rising star in Australian diving
When did you start diving?
I have been diving for four years now. My first love was gymnastics which I started when I was four years old at the Gold Coast Gymnastics Club. My teacher Julie Cuff entered me in my first competition in that year just for fun but I went on to take out a place which surprised everyone. I continued in the sport for the next eight years under the watchful eye of gymnastics coach Wendy Gilliver. By 2006, I was training at the elite level but sustained a foot injury and was unable to train for six months. It was at this time, after meeting Olympian and ex-AIS athlete Chantelle Newbery, it was suggested that I should try out for a place in the Diving Talent Identification (TID) Program in Brisbane. This is when my interest and now passion for diving began. Four years later and lots of hard work and determination to succeed, I have since earned an AIS scholarship and have secured my place in the final selection stage for nomination in the Women’s Platform event at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
What was your biggest break?
In 2010, I qualified for and was selected to compete in FINA World Junior Championships (Group B) in Tucson, Arizona, United States. At this event, I won silver in the women’s Platform event. In that same year, I qualified to compete in the Commonwealth Games trials and was selected for the 2012 Target Squad.
At open level, in 2011 I competed in my first international competition meet in the USA Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale Florida. It was and still is the most memorable competition of my life. To this day, they would have to be the five most perfect consecutive dives I have ever performed. I took out the women’s platform event by eventually defeating the world ranked number one, Chen Roulin from China. What a day!!!
What have been the major challenges in you diving career?
A major challenge in my diving career has been the commitment and sacrifices that not only I have had to make but my family make as well. I travel more than 1,300 km each week from home on the Gold Coast to Brisbane to train. We train four mornings a week from 6–8am. I originally started high school in Brisbane but missed not being able to go to school with my sister and my old friends. I now attend Marymount College on the Gold Coast each day and commute back up to Brisbane each afternoon and train till 6pm. I know that sounds a bit crazy to many but I have great support from my school and friends and even more from my sister Tara, so it is a sacrifice well worth it in the long run.
Which are the highlights and successes of your diving career?
Highlights are that I am able to train and hang out with some great athletes and could never have dreamt that I would be travelling around the world at 16 years old. Winning the USA Grand Prix is still the biggest highlight of my career.
Not so much a highlight for my diving career but definitely a learning curve was competing last year in the FINA Diving World Championships in China. Off the back of my win in United States, my confidence and lack of experience in a major world event got the better of me and I did not make the finals. I struggled with this result but with loads of support from team mates, coaches and family and friends, I took it all on board and was back on track soon after with a renewed understanding and determination for what areas I had to improve on.
This month I placed second in the Olympic diving nomination trials in Adelaide. It was an event that my Coach Xangning Chen and I worked extremely hard on to succeed in and it paid off.
What is your motivation for diving?
I love to train hard and keep fit. I want to compete at an Olympic Games.
How has the AIS supported your training and development?
Being on an AIS scholarship has enabled me to travel overseas and compete in international events. I have had the support of the professionals who are available to help with all areas of health, nutrition, education and above all enable me to train under my excellent coaches.
Do you have an idol or someone you look up to?
I have a few people that I look up to in sport. They are: Wendy Gilliver who was my gymnastic coach from the age of four. Before any competition she would always say, ‘go out and shine like a star’. Chantelle Newbery, because she introduced me to diving and has never stopped believing in me. My diving coaches Jin Lan and Xangning, who have guided me from the beginning. Outside of diving, my mum.
Do you have any pursuits outside diving?
No not at the moment. I started dance classes but had to drop out as I am committed to diving at the moment. I am working hard to complete studies in Year 11.
What are your aspirations and goals for 2012?
Only one. Compete and win a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games