Freddie Woodward did not expect to be at the Rio Olympics as recently as six months ago and that assuaged the pain of his agonisingly narrow exit in the preliminary round of the 3m springboard.
The 21-year-old from Sheffield ended up 19th – with only the top 18 qualifying through to today’s semi-finals.
His total of 388.15 had looked like being enough at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre but he was dropped agonisingly out of contention on the final round by Russia’s Ilia Zakharov – champion in this event four years ago in London.
And while missing out by just one spot was understandably tough to take – Woodward was far from disconsolate after the result.
“Overall I am pleased, a lot of what I did was strong. This is my first Olympics and I was delighted to have made it here in the first place,” he said.
“My goal was to try and fight to get into that semi-final and then maybe that final but it is really tough – no diver in this is a joke, it’s really strong.
“The conditions – with the wind and the light changing to dark that made it difficult as well.
“But if I’m honest I feel like I wasn’t too fazed, I know that I was pipped in the final dive but it was by the Olympic champion which is some consolation.
“But I am pleased overall and my coach is too – I think I performed but it would have been great to have gone a little bit further.”
Woodward – the Commonwealth bronze medallist back in 2014 – was appearing at his first ever Olympics.
And while the British diving squad already have two medals – a gold and a bronze – for Woodward this was an invaluable learning experience for what he hopes will be a podium challenge of his own at Tokyo 2020.
“Now having competed in the Olympics, that is going to make the other competitions a lot less stressful,” he added.
“I am looking forward to that and this will give more motivation than ever. I am hoping this galvanises me to produce more performances and see where we are at in four years time.
“That’s where I have always known I am going to be more at my peak.
“I am still fairly young but i have gained loads of experience so I am looking forward to what I can do in four years.”
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