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Diving stars on the comeback

8 July 2007

Australia’s most successful diving foursome is launching a bid to reunite for the Beijing Olympics.

Platform divers Loudy Wiggins (nee Tourky) and Mathew Helm are back in full training, while Olympic Champion Chantelle Newbery and her husband Robert have also returned to the pool in an attempt to gain selection for the 2008 Games.

At 27, Wiggins has already bagged two Olympic bronze medals, a World Championship silver and three Commonwealth Games gold medals and is now into her third month of training after a comeback from a premature early retirement due to an ankle injury.

“I’m probably about 65-per-cent of what I was when I was at Athens [2004 Olympics]. I was really fit and the amount of training my body could handle was great,” said Wiggins.

“It is a matter of conditioning and getting the body back and getting used to the height again because that was one thing I found really hard - it was all fun and games until I actually went up to the ten-metre platform and I had a look down and thought: ‘what the hell am I doing up here?’”

For Wiggins, the lure of attending a fourth Olympics is an important motivation behind her return. “I don’t try to think about it too much but I think in my subconscious it is all about the Olympics.”

Wiggins is also keeping in contact with her compatriot ten-metre diver, Mathew Helm, who is also regaining the training form that saw him dive superbly in Athens for silver.

“We’ve been travelling together since 1998, so it will be nice to see a familiar face on the team, and we are good mates,” said Wiggins.

Helm, also 27, has relocated to Brisbane where the national squad is based and he is into the fourth month of training in his comeback.

“It’s been pretty tough. I’ve had to deal with a lot of the chronic injuries I had prior to leaving the sport, but I feel like I’m getting over that really tough period and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Helm.

“I’m feeling fit, I’m strong, the technique is coming back quite quickly, what’s missing is the ability to handle those ten sessions you need to do each week.”

Helm has cited “unfinished business” and being inspired by the Australian Youth squad at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival earlier this year where he was the diving ambassador.

Robert and Chantelle Newbery, who have both won medals at Olympic Games, World Championships, FINA World Cups and Commonwealth Games, have made a quiet resumption to training in Brisbane as they both aim for their third consecutive Olympics.

Joe Bromham

Return to Beijing Bound

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