AYOF is Smith’s next step

21 October 2008

DIVING: Melbourne diver Anabelle Smith has already made an impressive plunge on the international stage and the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney, from 14-18 January, is the next focus for the 15-year-old.

Last month at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships in Aachen, Germany, Smith clinched two individual bronze medals.

“In Germany I won medals in the Girls’ B 1 metre and Girls’ B 3 metre springboard events,” Smith said.

“There were heaps of countries there but the main people were China, who came 1st and 2nd in pretty much every event. The Germans were strong contenders too, as well as Russia and Great Britain.”

Smith’s impressive performances are the result of a lot of hard work.

Every morning the bubbly teenager is at the pool training from 6am to 7.30am then in the afternoon after school she returns for a second session from 4pm to 7pm.

“I train10 times per week at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in a high performance program run by the Diving Australia,” she said. “My coach is Kong Zeng but we call him KZ.”

At the 2009 AYOF, Smith will participate in the 1m & 3m springboard events as well as the 10m platform.

“It is a great honour to represent your country…I am really looking forward to the AYOF. There will probably be a few people there who were in Germany (World Junior Champs).”

2008 has has been a great year for Smith. At the Australian Olympic Team trials in April, she was competitive with her older rivals and placed 4th in the women’s 3 metre and 5th in the platform. At the Elite Junior National Championships in July, she won the Girl’s B 1 metre, 3 metre and platform event. She also achieved a 7th place the women’s platform event at the 2008 FINA Italian Grand Prix during June.

Smith’s talents have not gone unnoticed. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) recently awarded her with a scholarship, along with six other aspiring athletes from different sports. This scholarship provides encouragement and funding for 12 months as well as personal mentoring from Hall of Fame member and Sydney 2000 water polo gold medallist, Debbie Watson OAM.

During the Beijing Olympic Games, Smith was glued to the TV when the Aussie divers were in action.

“I was recording all the Olympic diving and watched it when I got home,” she said. “I stayed up late to watch Matthew Mitcham win gold.”

Three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic bronze medallist, Loudy Wiggins, is her role model.

“When Loudy came back from retirement she trained with my squad. She was training on the platform the same time I was and she gave me some great advice,” Smith said.

The London Olympics in 2012 is Smith’s major goal but before then she would like to finish her high school education and gain selection for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2010 World Youth Olympic Games.

“My school is really supportive. I do one less subject than everyone else so I get free study periods at school to do my homework and when I go away [to compete in diving competitions] my teachers email me work…I’m pretty good at getting it done,” the Year 10 student said.

Eventually Smith would like a career in sports medicine and to achieve this she is studying hard and is currently undertaking a Year 11 Victorian Certificate of Education subject.

Smith is looking forward to taking on top junior divers from around the world at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney, 14 -18 January. Spectating is free and more information can be found at olympics.com.au

Sarah-Lucy Rice

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