DIVER Oliver Dingley insists the pain of missing out on the 2012 Olympics has made his Commonwealth Games selection even sweeter.
The 21-year-old Southend Diving Club member was controversially omitted from the squad for London.
And, after shedding several tears, he cannot wait to take part in Glasgow.
“After missing the Olympics there were days when I was crying a lot,” recalled Dingley.
“I went on holiday to Majorca to get away from it all with my girlfriend.
“But she wanted to watch the opening ceremony and within five minutes I burst into tears.
“It was hard to take because I came second in the selection trials but they decided to take the guy who came third.
“However, that’s what makes these Commonwealths so special because I’ve got back on my feet from that real low.
“This time I dived so well I made sure they had to select me.”
As a result, Dingley will be gunning for glory in the three metre springboard at the Commonwealth Games.
He also took part in the 2010 Games in Delhi and is determined to make the most of his latest international appearance.
“I can’t wait to be honest,” said Dingley. “I’m so nervous but I’m going to go out there and enjoy myself because when I do that is when I get the best results.
“If I dive the best I can then a medal could be on the cards, but I’m not thinking of that.
“I’m just focusing on my dives.”
Dingley’s best finish at his previous Commonweath appearance was seventh in the three metre synchro.
But he is determined to make the most of his latest call-up including last night’s opening ceremony at Celtic Park.
“Walking in to a stadium with close to 60,000 people in it was amazing,” Dingley said.
“I missed that in London and it was devastating.
“In Delhi, we flew out after the opening ceremony and flew back before the closing one, so it was great to do it this time round.
Dingley – who could yet also be selected for the one metre competition – has worked tirelessly to secure the call-up and trains six days a week at Southend Diving Club’s base at Garon Park.
But it was his love of bacon sandwiches which first got him into the sport!
“My brother used to go to swimming lessons every Saturday morning when we were kids and I would go down with my dad for the bacon,” laughed Dingley.
“One day we were there and the diving pool was open for the general public.
“A lifeguard suggested I should try it and I loved it straight away.
“I was always an active, wild type of child who would launch myself off of anything so it suited me straight away.
“It was just before my eighth birthday and I was in the British team when I was nine and national champion when I was 10.
“But I’ve always loved diving and I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing right now.”
However, if things had worked out differently, Dingley could well have been excelling in a different sport.
For during his youth, he also impressed on the football pitch.
“Up until the age of 15 I played football for Middlesbrough,” said Dingley.
“I was a winger or centre forward and was very fast which has actually helped me with my diving but it’s what I’m doing now is always what I’ve enjoyed the most.”
Dingley’s dedication also led to him leaving his Harrogate base to come to Southend to train back in 2012.
Dingley followed his highly-rated coach Damian Ball in coming to Essex.
And his Commonwealth call-up is further proof he made the right decision.
“Damian has been my coach since I was eight and I came down here with him which has definitely been the right thing for me,” said Dingley.
“The only problem I had was trying to understand the accent and Duran (Omar) was the worst because he’s a proper Essex geezer.
“I love it here though. It’s a huge club with more than 200 members and coming here has definitely helped me improve and make these Commonwealth Games.”
We’re asking all of our Commonwealth Games athletes, eight quick-fire questions.
1) WHO INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE UP THE SPORT? I was always very active growing up. I struggled at school with my dyslexia so being able to do sport was like a breath of fresh air. No matter how much I struggled during the day at school, in the evening I would go to diving and do something I loved which was great motivation to succeed. Another inspiration for me was the support I have received from friends, family and my coach. They have all taught me to follow my dream and, no matter what, they will be there to support me.
2) WHAT WILL BE THE LAST SONG YOU LISTEN TO BEFORE YOU COMPETE?
I don’t have a particular song, but I am a bit superstitious and if I do a good dive, the song I listened too before I did that dive I will replay again just before I do my next dive.
3) WHAT OTHER SPORT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE GOOD AT?
I would love to be a footballer, I have always had a big passion for football. Golf is quite appealing too. Getting to spend most of your time outdoors and on a golf course and driving buggys sounds like the perfect job!
4) WHAT SUPERSTITIONS DO YOU HAVE? There’s the music I mentioned before then, before my dive in competition, I will go to the end of the board and have a little bounce. I then tie my shammy (little towel) in a knot and throw it down. Once I have done this I will change the wheel to number nine and push down on the wheel with both feet. Once I have done these three things I will get into position, go over my dive in my head and go. None of that will make much sense to people and even a lot of divers will ask ‘why on earth do you do that?’
5) WHO IS YOUR HERO? Muhammad Ali. He is someone who didn't give up on his journey to be coming the greatest. Another one is an athlete who is competing in Glasgow, the road cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti from Rwanda. In 1997 he lost six brothers and 60 family members through genocide. He learnt his trade on a wooden bike with wooden wheels and went on to compete in 2012. You don’t just have to win to become a sporting hero.
6) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PRE-COMPETITION MEAL? A large steak. Staying in the athletes village is amazing, the dinning hall is open 24/7 and all food is unlimited so there is no shortage of steak!
7) WHAT ‘BAD FOODS’ CAN’T YOU RESIST?
I am generally quite good when it comes to food although if someone offered me some Pringles I would struggle to say no!
8) WHAT OTHER SPORT WOULD YOU LIKE TO WATCH AT THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES? Unfortunately diving at the Games is in Edinburgh meaning our competition is far away from all the other competitions. I would have loved to see the cycling in the velodrome. I have been lucky enough too see the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggings in the village every day and it would be amazing to see him in action.
My sister is volunteering at the gymnastics so I popped over to see her one day and we watched the rhythmic gymnasts train and they were pretty amazing!