Sheffield diver bids for European and Olympic glory

Freddie Woodward, right,  with his coach Tom Owens at the Rio pool
Freddie Woodward, right, with his coach Tom Owens at the Rio pool
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Confidence may be soaring following an impressive start to the season but Sheffield diver Freddie Woodward insists he is only just getting started.

The 20-year-old was in the headlines last month as he qualified Team GB a second individual 3m springboard quota place at this summer’s Olympic Games by reaching the semi-finals of the Rio World Cup.

That came hot on the heels of a golden outing at the National Cup as he claimed both the 3m and 1m springboard titles in Southend.

Those results are all the more impressive considering the former Silverdale School pupil admits he had been struggling to find top gear in the off season.

But after proving an insight into his potential both home and abroad in recent months Woodward – winner of 3m synchro bronze alongside Nick Robinson-Baker at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – could not be happier with his current progress.

“It really has been a good start to the year for me. I had not actually had the best off season, I was diving ok but I kept getting little niggles that seemed to be getting in the way,” he said.

“Diving into the water was just not feeling easy, whereas when you are firing on all cylinders it does.

But I worked through it and then went to nationals and as soon as I got there I just felt that buzz and the confidence was there again.

“And then I was over the moon with how I dived in Rio at the World Cup.

“It was my first World Cup event so just being in the competition with all the best divers from the entire world was quite daunting.

“I wanted to go out there and try and earn a second quota spot for my country, that was my target.

“I managed to do what I had to do and came through. I proved to myself that I can compete alongside the best in the world on one of the biggest stages.

“I came away with a lot of confidence and feeling really positive for the rest of the season.”

Success in Rio does not guarantee Woodward a place on the team for this summer’s Olympic Games, although with the London 2016 European Aquatics Championships also taking place from May 9-22, there is plenty for the Sheffield Diving Club member to aim for.

The European Aquatics Championships will be the biggest event held at the London Aquatics Centre since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and will represent the last chance to see Great British athletes in action before they fly to Rio.

And after his strong start to the season, Woodward insists he will be aiming for more of the same in the coming months I will probably stick to the same list of dives which I used in the semi-final in Rio. I’m diving those well at the minute so there is no point in changing that much,” he added.

“I can be steady and then next season look to increase the degree of difficulty but it’s not something I need to worry about until then. In a sport like diving, anything can happen so you have to just concentrate on yourself.”

* Tickets for the European Aquatics Championships – the biggest event at the London Aquatics Centre since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games – from May 9-22 are now available here: www.euroaquatics2016.london