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Oliver Dingley's massive year in bid to make Olympics
OLIVER Dingley admits he has got a huge year coming up as he continues his pursuit of a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The 20-year-old from Rochford, who started his training for the new season this week at Garon Park, is determined to nail down his place in the GB squad with success at January’s British Championships and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
“It’s an important year for me,” said the Southend Diving Club member, who is the reigning British champion on the 1m springboard.
“The next big competition for me is the British Championships, although I do have some smaller competitions before then.
“To move myself on to the next level I think I need to improve my consistency.
“I did not go to the World Championships (in Barcelona in July) and I was disappointed with that because my score in the Europeans (in Germany in June) would have taken me through to the final in third place in Barcelona.
“So that was a shame, but I’ve had a very successful year and I’m starting to finally get noticed on the world stage now.
“My name is out there and if I keep producing good performances then there is no reason I won’t be competing at the World Championships and the Olympics in the future.
“This will be a key year for Rio. I want to get a head-start on my main rivals for Rio and beat them sooner rather than later so I am at the front of the queue.”
Dingley’s main rivals for a spot on a GB squad – led by national poster boy Tom Daley – are Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, who he beat at the British Championships this year and at the Olympic trials last year.
He said: “Being British champion at 1m at the moment is something which gives me great confidence. And it’s confidence I have lacked in the past.
“Since I have come down to Southend my confidence has shot up – not in a bad way – but I am confident in my own ability now.”
Harrogate-born Dingley moved to Essex from Leeds in September 2012 after his mentor of 10-years, Damian Ball, was made head coach at the world-class diving centre in Southend.
He is trained by Ball most of the time, but also benefits from working under Southend’s respected coach Bill Clarke, who has helped local divers Alison Childs, Karen Smith and Tracey Richardson to reach the Olympics over the past 30 years.
Dingley has a girlfriend who lives on Canvey Island and is working towards a qualification in graphic design, and although he admits to being a staunch Leeds United supporter, he now considers himself an honorary seasider.
He said: “I really enjoy living in the area and it’s exciting for me to think I could be the first person since Karen Smith in 2000 to represent Southend at an Olympic Games. I am so lucky to be able to train at this facility and to be part of this project makes me very proud.”
Dingley spearheads a stable of precocious young divers in Southend and trains closely with 16-year-old Alister McCrae, who became a triple champion at the British Age Group Championships in July.
Dingley said: “Alister is extremely hard-working and his attitude towards training is brilliant.
“To take three gold medals at the national age groups is some achievement and next year he’ll be going on to an even bigger stage when he competes at the elite junior championships.
“He is one of many great young divers here and it is great for competition here and produces the high standards the club needs to be successful at future competitions.”
Dingley, like so many of Great Britain’s Rio 2016 hopefuls, is looking for sponsorship, and if you can help please email him at email@example.com