The Australian Olympic Committee today announced the squad of seven divers heading to Tokyo 2020, including four first time Olympians.
Headlining the team is now veteran Melissa Wu, competing in her fourth Games after debuting at Beijing 2008. Wu holds the record as the youngest Australian to win an Olympic medal, winning silver in the synchronised 10 metre platform at 16-years-old.
Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman congratulated and welcomed the seven divers to the team.
“Congratulations to all seven divers named to the Australian Olympic Team today,” Mr Chesterman said.
“This group of athletes have faced some difficult challenges and have shown incredible determination and perseverance to achieve their Olympic selection.
“I want to make particular mention of Melissa Wu – making a single Games is a special achievement but to make four Games is a rare accomplishment and a fantastic recognition of a career dedicated to excellence.
“It takes a village to raise an Olympian and I want to thank Diving Australia, the coaches and support staff who have helped develop these athletes from juniors to the world’s biggest sporting stage, and to the friends, family and supporters who have been there every step of the way to help these seven divers achieve their Tokyo Olympic dream.”
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Wu, like many other athletes heading to Tokyo, has felt the additional pressure and challenges of the delayed start.
She believes that her prior Olympic experience will hold her in good stead come July, despite it being one of the most unique challenges she’s faced in her diving career.
“The road to Tokyo has certainly been a long one, and now that we are at the pointy end of the journey I just can’t wait to get on the platform and put forward my very best,” Wu said.
“Being my fourth Games I think I have a good understanding of how to manage my emotions and expectations, and more than anything else just understand what to expect at an Olympic competition. Although Tokyo will no doubt look and feel different to Beijing, London, and Rio, when I step out onto the platform it will be just like any other competition.
“It’s been a really challenging last few months managing injuries, but I’m at a point now that my diving is consistent and I feel comfortable competing every single dive in my list.”
Bronze medallist at Rio 2016 Anabelle Smith has qualified for her third Olympics, while Esther Qin qualifies for her second after debuting at Rio.
20-year-old West Australian Nikita Hains closes out the women’s team in her debut Games, competing in the 10-metre platform.
An all-debutants men’s squad
All three men representing Australia in diving will be competing in their first Games at Tokyo 2020.
Cassiel Rousseau, Sam Fricker and Shixin Li will be representing Australia at the Olympics for the first time in July in a landmark milestone.
Rousseau is incredibly proud to be able to represent Australia in his first Games.
“To make these Olympic Games is just a dream come true,” Rousseau said.
“To be able to put on the green and gold and compete in an event in which so many legendary athletes such as Mat Helm and Matt Mitcham competed themselves, it’s just a huge honour.
“It’s surreal to think that the Olympics is less than 40 days away after the long year that we’ve just had, but I think that just builds the anticipation.
“I came to diving from acrobatic gymnastics not too long ago but this community has been so welcoming and supportive.”
Li’s debut is particularly notable, becoming the oldest Australian diver to make to their Olympic debut at 33. He is a specialist in the one-metre springboard, an event which is held in the FINA circuit but not at the Olympics.
It’s a remarkable story, Li having previously temporarily retired from diving in 2014.
Steve Foley, triple Olympian diver and Diving Australia’s General Manager of High Performance, celebrated the athletes’ official selection.
“I could not be prouder of the determination and grit of these seven athletes,” Foley said.
“Over the past week at our nomination trials, they have shown that they are not only the best divers in the country but are well prepared to take on the world’s best.
“Although there are some new faces on this team who are eager to make their Olympic debut, I am sure they will be able to lean on the experience and leadership from our Olympic veterans.
“Australian diving has gone from strength to strength in recent years and this latest batch of Olympians are the cream of the crop.”
The diving events are scheduled to begin on July 25 with the women’s synchronised three-metre springboard.
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