Diving nationals wrap up

11 April 2014

DIVING: Highlights from the 2014 Australian Diving Championships in Melbourne which double as Commonwealth Games selection trials.

Keeney strikes again

Maddison Keeney continued her rise up Australia's diving ranks with two more wins at the Commonwealth Games selection trials, but such success has eluded seasoned performer Matthew Mitcham.

Keeney, 17, posted a personal best in claiming the three-metre title in Melbourne on Thursday, before taking out the synchro final with London Olympian Anabelle Smith.

The victories followed her one-metre springboard triumph on Monday and sets her up for a potential triple gold medal-haul in Glasgow.

The Perth teenager has shown big improvement over the past 12 months, having won the FINA grand prix in Madrid earlier this year.

It was a mixed day, however, for Beijing Olympic champion Mitcham, who lost out to 19-year-old Queenslander Domonic Bedggood in his pet event - the 10m platform final.

The pair went on to claim the synchro final, but Mitcham admits his form is still short of where it needs to be.

"I'm not even close to my best yet," said Mitcham, who took out the three-metre synchro final with Grant Nel on Wednesday.

"I'm very happy overall with my week, but I'm pretty tired. I guess that's why I did so many events, as a bit of a road test for the Commonwealth Games.

"Now I realise I need to work on recovery between each day, because I've been waking up really sore from the day before."

Despite limiting his dives to the two platform events and three-metre synchro, Mitcham has the option of also competing in the one and three-metre disciplines in Glasgow.

But that appears unlikely.

"The options are open, we've been discussing which events I should prioritise," the 26-year-old said.

"I do have the ability to do all the events, but I don't think I'd be maximising my potential."

Mitcham is eager to renew his rivalry with British superstar Tom Daley at the Games, having traded crowns since Beijing.

"I think it's actually my turn for a title," he said.

His conqueror, Bedggood, wasn't even diving when Mitcham won gold in 2008 - he was still competing as a gymnast.

"To go out there and finish ahead of Matthew Mitcham (after just two years in the sport), well ..."

Wu wows at Diving Trials

Melissa Wu took another big step forward in her diving comeback when she won the individual and synchro platform finals at the Commonwealth Games selection trials.

The 21-year-old's success in Melbourne on Wednesday has her on track to compete at her third Commonwealth Games.

There'll she'll aim to add to a tally of three medals - an outcome that looked in doubt when she was forced out of the pool much of last year with a back injury.

Delhi Games bronze medallist Grant Nel also booked his Glasgow ticket with an outstanding performance in winning the men's three-metre final.

He continued that impressive form when he teamed up with Beijing Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham to win the platform synchro final.

Wu made her Commonwealth Games debut as a 14-year-old in Melbourne in 2006, winning silver in the platform synchro with Alex Croak, before claiming an Olympic silver in the same event with Briony Cole in Beijing 2008.

Wu and Croak then went on to win gold in the event in Delhi in 2010, while Wu finished with silver in the individual platform.

This year she's diving with London Olympian Rachel Bugg, the pair winning a tight final from world championship finalists Lara Tarvit and Emily Boyd.

"I've been training really hard leading up to this competition, working on strength and consistency," Wu said.

"I came into this feeling pretty well prepared, so I'm glad my competition reflected the way I've been training.

"At the moment I'm feeling pretty good injury-wise, I've been able to manage them pretty well so far this year."

Nel is set for a strong Glasgow performance after just missing a medal at last year's Barcelona world championships.

"I love it, I feel really relaxed out on the board, I'm having a good time, I'm always smiling up there," Nel said.

"I just love getting the opportunity to compete for Australia.

The older I get, the happier I am just to be here."

The selection trials finish on Thursday, with the highly-rated Maddison Keeney competing in the women's three-metre and Mitcham in the men's platform.

AYOF's Keeney rises to the top

Teenage diver Maddison Keeney has launched a campaign aimed at three Commonwealth Games gold medals with a sensational performance at the trials in Melbourne.

This marks a rapid ascension for the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) medallist.

The 17-year-old from Perth won the one-metre springboard event on Monday with an elite score of 339.90, blowing away her competition.

The same score would have won Keeney a gold medal at the last three world championships and the last two Commonwealth Games.

She'll attempt to fill her Glasgow Games schedule by qualifying for the three-metre individual and snychronised events this week.

Despite growing hype around her, Keeney is determined not to get ahead of herself.

"It's a bit daunting that people have such high expectations but first I need to qualify and get there," she said.

"Hopefully I will be doing that over the next few days."

She's made a fan in Matthew Mitcham.

"I'm constantly in awe of her," said Mitcham, the 2008 Olympic 10-metre platform champion.

"Because she is so strong she gets a lot more height off the board and can spin much faster than others... she makes dives look so easy."

Mitcham will attempt to qualify for three events himself, 10-metre solo and synchro and the three-metre synchro.

Free of major injuries for the first time since the Delhi Commonwealth Games, where he won four silver medals, he said going one better in Glasgow was a major driving force.

"I've got a World Cup and Olympic gold, I'd love to complete the trifecta," he said.

"I'm diving the best I've dived since I was number one in the world in 2010."

Back then, Keeney was a grade nine student but after finishing school in the summer she moved to Brisbane to be part of Australia's high performance program.

She attributes that move with improving her competition dives, to the point where she won gold at a prestigious grand prix meet in Madrid earlier this year.

"It's taken me quite a while to get the hang of the dives I'm trying to do. When I first started they obviously didn't go as well as they do now," she said.

"But I felt great today, that's the best I've ever dived."

The Commonwealth Games trials continue at the Melbourne Aquatic Centre until Thursday.


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