SOUTHEND Diving youngster Connor Van Dal has won gold at the Bimbingamba international event in Italy.

The highly rated 12-year-old came out on top on the one metre springboard event.

And his coach Damian Ball was thrilled to see Van Dal finish on top of the podium after being involved in bringing him to the club.

“It’s fantastic to see Connor winning out in Italy, especially as he was someone we found during the Primary Schools Talent Identification programme we run,” said Ball.

“We go out to local schools and work with the pupils to see if any of them could be suited to diving.

“Connor was someone we spotted at Chalkwell Hall Junior School. He came in and as soon as we saw him dive he stood out immediately and we knew we had found a real diamond.

“He only started in March 2011 so the progress he has made has been brilliant and now he needs to keep on training hard.”

Connor, a pupil at Belfairs High School, confirmed his potential at the start of the year with a series of fine displays in the National Championships.

He claimed one gold, one silver and two fourth place finishes.

From there he was called up in to the national squad and continues to flourish, training alongside Southend’s other internationals Oliver Dingley and Duran Omer.

And Ball feels the trio of talented divers help to bring the best out of each other.

“It works really well and it’s great how all three of them have come to the club in such different circumstances,” said Ball.

“Connor we identified and brought in, Duran was with the club in its original format at Warrior Square before we moved over and Oliver relocated to be with us.

“But Connor is a real cheeky, chappy and he’s a pleasure to work with and have in our training group at the club.”