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Australian Diving Championship highlights

15 December 2013

DIVING: Matthew Mitcham, Melissa Wu and the AYOF's Maddison Keeney were the stories of the 2013 Australian Open Diving Championships in Sydney over the weekend.

Mitcham back on top of the Podium

Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham admitted his performance was "rough", but it was enough to win platform gold at the Australian Open Championships in Sydney on Sunday.

Mitcham declared after the event the platform was still his top priority, despite almost dropping it as a discipline after a disappointing London Olympics.

"I definitely feel more comfortable on platform," Mitcham said.

"After seeing how today's gone, after not being up there for very long, relatively speaking, considering how long I had away from it, it's definitely where I think I've got the most potential."

For a while the Australian title looked in doubt as New Zealander Feng Yang Li outdived the Beijing gold medallist in the opening rounds.

But when Li made a mistake on a handstand dive, it let Mitcham back in and he took the opportunity.

"It was a bit rough, but it's still pretty early in the morning, so I think everything considered it was still a pretty good final," a relieved Mitcham said.

"I was using new dives, it being so early, having had a massive week already - looking across the semi and the prelim I'm actually doing pretty well in terms of timing and progression."

Mitcham set himself a gruelling campaign at the Australian Open, competing in four events - the platform, the 3-metre individual and 3-metre synchro, and the 1-metre.

He's not ruling out setting himself a similar schedule for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, when he knows he'll be in better shape.

"I haven't been up on platform for very long," he said.

"So not only do I have to work on my strength and my speed, and my form in the air, but definitely the consistency is one of the things I have to work on.

"But that's the sort of thing that comes over time, after a good period of solid, consistent training."

The only event Mitcham didn't win was the 3-metre individual, where he was beaten by Victorian Grant Nel.

The two good friends teamed up on Sunday to win gold in the 3-metre synchro.

In Sunday's other events, Victoria's Anabelle Smith overcame a slow start to win the 3-metre springboard, with WA's Maddison Keeney second.

"It wasn't my best of competitions, that's for sure," Smith said.

"I just felt the nerves a lot more than usual. In Australia I feel a lot more pressure than when I'm overseas and I'm the underdog and can work my way up the field. Here in Australia I feel like people are chasing me and that's when the nerves kick in, so it's something I've got to learn to deal with."

And comeback divers Melissa Wu and Rachel Bugg teamed up to win a tightly contested gold in the 10-metre synchro, with Barcelona finalists Emily Boyd and Lara Tarvit finishing second.

Wu wins Platform

Beijing silver medallist Melissa Wu has made a triumphant return to the 10m platform, winning the final at the Australian diving championships in Sydney.

Wu sat out most of this year with a back injury, missing the Barcelona World Championships.

"It still gives me grief, its been a bit sore over the last could of days, I think it's from the training this week and the extra sessions in the water and on ten metre this week," Wu said.

"It only hurts doing certain dives, but unfortunately I've got to train those dives.

"But it's so good to be back. It's been a tough year for me in terms of a couple of aspects of my life, so I'm glad I've been able to overcome everything and dive well again."

Rachel Bugg, who is also returning to top level competition after retiring straight after the London Olympics, finished second.

In Saturday's other event, Victoria's Anabelle Smith and Queensland's Sherilyse Gowlett teamed up to win the three-metre synchro final.

Perth Teen takes out 1m Springboard

2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival silver medallist Maddison Keeney has won the one-metre springboard title on the opening day of the Australian diving championships in Sydney.

The 17-year-old again underlined her enormous potential, with her confidence and ability to execute dives very few in the world would attempt delighting national coaches at Sydney Olympic Park.

"Yeah, they're hard dives, but if I pull them off then the points are worth it," Keeney said.

Keeney was a surprise selection for this year's World Championships in Barcelona, where she stunned the field to be in the lead after the opening two rounds of competition.

She will move from Perth to Brisbane in the new year where she will train with the main AIS squad, with her sights set firmly on next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.


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