The 2013 Talent Games are organised by the English Home Nation Diving Programme. Every year the English Programme collaborates with diving clubs such as Southampton Diving Academy to undertake a massive search involving tens of thousands of youngsters throughout English Schools looking for potential diving champions under 12 years old. This year’s inaugural Talent Games were held at Luton Sports Village, home of recent TV programme ‘Splash’ which featured Tom Daley. The philosophy for the event is quite simple, to search out the most accomplished young diving talent in the country through a series of physical and technical competitions. Five of Southampton Diving Academy young crop of talented divers were selected to compete, knowing that the very best across England would then be invited to join the first tier of the England Programme diving squads. Just competing at Luton was a fantastic achievement and the Club is very proud of these 5 divers.
The 3 Southampton girls competing, Lauren Bailey, Tia Pritchard and Mia Wood found themselves competing against 25 of the most talented 10 and 11 year old girls in England as well as a guest competitor from Scotland. On the first day, Mia Wood was highest placed (in 10th) after a series of ‘dry dive’ activities including on a trampoline, a dry board and in the gymnasium, as well as demonstrating physical prowess in a gymnastic floor routine. She was closely followed by Tia in 11th and by Lauren. On the second day, where 18 dives were required, it was Tia’s turn to lead the 3 Southampton girls (in 12th place). The standard was extraordinarily high and all 3 competitors were congratulated by coach, Xinde Zhang for performing so creditably – their performances auger well for the future.
During the weekend, the 2 Southampton boys performed the same diverse range of diving and gymnasium events. On Day 1, it was Cameron Gammage who performed very well, with a 3rd place in the gymnasium, behind the winner, Raffael Benitez from Sheffield. The first 3 boys surprised the judges by all exceeding 100 pts, a score thought all but impossible! Cameron was marked especially highly for a near flawless gymnastic floor routine. Day 2 saw the actual diving events and now it was the turn of Angus Kerr (placed 11th overall overnight) to literally leap to the fore, with a silver medal-winning set of dives, including one judge giving a perfect score of 10 pts for a ‘back tuck roll’. Angus performed so well he made all 3 diving ‘knock-out’ finals on the 1 and 3 metre boards, testament to his outstanding all round talent and resilience. Angus scored highest overall on 3 metre springboard outscoring top divers from Crystal Palace and Sheffield. He gained another silver on 3 metre platform with his final dive scoring straight 9’s for his inward dive with tuck. Cameron’s creditable 6th place on Day 2 included a few scores of 9, and saw him hold on to an overall 3rd place in the inaugural England Talent Games, while Angus placed 6th overall. Fingers are now firmly crossed that boy boys have done enough to impress those who have the unenviable task of selecting divers to join the first rung of English squads.