World’s best junior divers set to make a splash in Montreal
More than 200 young divers will be competing in Montreal from November 27th to December 4th at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships. For many of the divers, the World Juniors represent the first step in achieving their Olympic dreams.
Alexandre Despatie, double Olympic medalist and multiple World Champion, remembers the importance of the World Juniors in his own journey.
“It’s an important step for a young diver. If you qualify for World Juniors, you have other Major Games in your sights, including the Olympics. This will be the very first opportunity to compete on the world stage for many of these youngsters. They will be able to gauge the level of other divers their own age and that’s motivating. It can also have the effect of a cold shower, but it’s encouraging”, explained Despatie.
He remembers his own first experience. Despatie met many other divers that he rubbed shoulders with his entire career. “I made a ton of friends too. I remember it fondly”, he says.
The retired diver has competed in many high-level competitions in Montreal and shared that diving at home adds a specialness to the proceedings.
“For those young divers, it’s pretty amazing to compete at this level in front of their family and friends. It’s also special for the parents to share this experience with their child. They cannot always be there in person when the competitions are elsewhere in the world. It makes it more difficult”, he added.
Alexandre Despatie will be poolside, cheering on tomorrow’s stars.
« I’m really, really excited. I’ve seen and heard a lot about our young Canadian national team divers, and their international rivals as well. I can’t wait to see at what level that age group competes. It’s going to be fun to watch. »
Canada will be represented by 16 divers, many of whom live and train in Montreal. Like Matt Cullen. Cullen will have the opportunity to compete in his very first World Juniors at home, with family and friends cheering him on.
« I was so happy to learn that the World Juniors were going to be held in Montreal, right here at my pool. I’m very familiar with this pool. I have all my visual points of reference that help me in the air and I’m really comfortable here. I think that it’s really going to help me”, Cullen shared.
« My family and my girlfriend’s family will be in the stands to watch me dive. Normally, we’re in a different country, it’s a lot harder to come and cheer us on. It’s going to be so great to dive in front of them at such an important competition”, added the Rosemère (QC) diver.
Training every day in Montreal, Cullen rubs shoulders with many of the divers who competed in the last Olympic Games. He admits to being somewhat intimidated at first but that he now enjoys all their tips that will help on route to reaching the highest levels of his sport.
“At first, talking to them stressed me out a little, but I got to know them better. They are great role models. We are very close now. Sometimes, they share a few tips. It’s really great to train with them », shared Cullen, who will be turning 17 next month.
He dreams of competing at the Olympics one day and these World Juniors are a great opportunity to make his mark.
“My first goal is to make the final. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to stand on the podium. I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury which slowed my preparations a bit, but I’ve been very well supported by my team and I’m back and everything is pretty much going as planned. I’m feeling confident”, declared Cullen.
He expects Team Canada to stand out with strong performances but also because of its exceptional team chemistry.
“Canada is always one of the loudest countries during competitions. We know each other well and we make it a point to cheer each other on”, shared Cullen.
His teammate, Victoria, B.C.’s Renée Batalla agrees: “It’s a very welcoming group with great team spirit”.
Batalla has just finished a six-week training camp in Montreal and can’t wait to dive here again at World Juniors.
“I’ve been thinking about this competition for a long time. It’s going to be a great experience. The World Juniors are the step before the Senior World Championships, so it’s important. It’s also great because we are competing in our home country, at a pool that I know well”, said Batalla.
Many of her family members and friends will be in Montreal for the event. She hopes to medal but more importantly, she wants to give it her all and dive as well as she does in practice.
The young diver recently celebrated her sixteenth birthday but has already made a splash at the senior level. Last summer, she was crowned senior national champion on the platform and participated in the Commonwealth Games that were held in Birmingham, England.
“It was obviously a great experience but competing at the senior level is very different than at the junior level. I don’t have the same diving list. I am much more confident in my junior dive list, for now, anyway”, she acknowledged.
Since this will be her first experience at World Championships, she is somewhat unsure what to expect. However, she knows the competition will be fierce.
The event will kick off on November 27th. The opening ceremony will be held at 3.30 pm.
Canada will be represented by the following divers:
• Renée Batalla (Victoria, BC | platform | Group A)
• Presley Deck (Saskatoon, SK | 1m, 3m, platform | Group B)
• Alexa Fung (London, ON| 1m, 3m | Group B)
• Katelyn Fung (London, ON | 1m, 3m | Group A)
• Mathilde Laberge (Montreal, QC | 3m, platform | Group B)
• Kate Miller (Ottawa, ON | platform | Group A)
• Sonya Palkhivala (Pointe-Claire, QC | 1m, 3m | Group A)
• Noah Bernard (Toronto, ON | 1m, 3m | Group A)
• Chris Booler (Beaconsfield, QC | 3m | Group A)
• Arnaud Corbeil (Terrebonne, QC | 3m, platform | Group B)
• Matt Cullen (Rosemère, QC | platform | Group A)
• Luc Goertzen (Calgary, AB | 1m, 3m | Group B)
• Emmitt Reesor (Waterloo, ON | 1m | Group A)
• Blessing Roche (Montreal, QC | 1m | Group B)
• Samuel Talbot (Brossard, QC | platform | Groupe B)
• Geoffrey Vavistas (Toronto, ON | platform | Group A)
The first ever international junior high diving competition will be held December 3rd and 4th alongside the Junior World Championships. Young divers will compete from the 12 and 15 metre platforms.
For schedules, tickets and results: https://diving.ca/montreal2022
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