Last dive delivered the goods

St Catherine’s Diving Coach, Anabelle Smith reflects on her Rio Olympic medal in The Stonnington Leader this week.

LIKE a good old page-turning thriller, Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney left things late.

After two less-than-pleasing dives, the Australian pair sat eighth of eight in the final of the 3m synchronised event at the Rio Olympics.


Their Olympic campaign looked destined to end in a huge splash, and not the cele-bratory kind.

But, the pair worked their way steadily through the field and stepped on to the springboard for their final dive in fifth place.

And, after logging an impressive 71.10 at their last at-tempt, the pair leapfrogged the Canadian and Malaysian pairs to secure the bronze medal.

Prahran’s Smith is still coming to grips with the last-gasp effort. “It’s been crazy,” she said. “We were hoping to get a medal but we didn’t really think we were doing all that well.

“But, we really work on that ‘one dive at a time’ and work our way from one dive to the next.”

With a score in excess of 70, you’d think an Olympic diver would feel like they’d done a pretty good job. But, such was the off day she felt she was having, Smith thought they’d blown dive No.6 and, with it, their medal chances.

“Our last dive, under the water, I was so angry at myself,” she said. “When I came up I thought I’d jumped too far forward. I was saying ‘I’m so sorry’ to Maddison.”
“But, she said ‘that’s OK. I did exactly the same thing’.”

This was a team so in synch it even made the same mistakes in the mirror image fashion required.

Given the training set up of the two, it is all the more amazing how that team work developed, with Smith training at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and Keeney a continent away in Perth.

It’s not the kind of event you can do by correspondence, or even over the internet.

“We’d been together for three weeks in Brisbane and we had a long competition season.” Smith said. “So it doesn’t take too long to snap back into it.”

When the realisation sank in that they’d grabbed a bronze medal, Smith said it was a while before she could celebrate with her family back home.

“Immediately after competing, we had media and drug testing, so it was about 45 minutes before I could call mum and dad,” she said. “They were crying, I was crying. And, it was so early in Melbourne when I was competing and everyone was up watching, so I was glad I could do well.”

Smith will now brush the confetti from her hair, after doing the rounds of the welcome home festivities around the country, before returning to the pool for a crack at the next Olympics.

“I am having time off for a month,” she said. “Hopefully I will make it to Tokyo 2020. It’s a long four years, but you keep planning and take it a year at a time.”

ANABELLE Smith is eligible to be a nominee for this year’s Stonnington Leader senior sports star award.

Article featured in The Stonnington Leader, Tuesday 4 October 2016, page 30. PICTURE: CHRIS GRAYTHEN/GETTY IMAGES

The Stonnington Leader

David Turner

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