The 2016 Talent Games was held in Leeds, and was attended by over 50 young divers aged 11 years and under from diving clubs all across England & Scotland. The games are organised by the ASA England Talent programme each year, with its purpose being to identify potential future diving champions. At the end of the weekend a handful of divers will be selected to join the England Diving Programme Zone Squad.
This year, Southampton Diving Academy selected 10 divers, 3 girls and 7 boys, to undertake a tough weekend of physical testing and diving. The divers selected from SDA were James Nicholson, Anjali Kutty, Bryn James, Illan Stead, Jamie Akerman, Bevan Wolley, Oliver Covell, Robbie Lee, Rachel Cleal & Dulcie Wilson.
The physical testing commenced on the first day whereby the children had to demonstrate their strength, flexibility and stamina in a variety of different disciplines including speed tests, strength testing and a floor routine. All of the children showed determination and perseverance, with all giving maximum effort. The day ended with a medal presentation to the top 3 girls and boys, with Robbie Lee for SDA achieving a gold medal for the boys.
On the second day the children demonstrated their diving skills, with all divers doing the same 12 dives and SDA once again holding its own against some very tough competition. The 8 highest scoring divers on each board progressed to a knockout round until there was only 1 diver remaining. Two SDA divers made it to the knockout round; Robbie Lee on the 1 metre springboard and Dulcie Wilson on the 3 metre platform. Robbie was able to secure the silver medal for SDA, with Dulcie battling to bronze.
After a long day of diving the pool results were released and more SDA medals followed. Anjali Kutty, one of SDA’s youngest divers, achieved a silver medal in the 8 & 9 year old girls category, which was followed by Robbie Lee achieving a bronze medal in the 11 year old boys.
There were other notable achievements, with Oliver Covell finishing 6th in the 11 year old boys category and Dulcie Wilson finishing 5th in the girls. James Nicholson just missed out on a top 3 finish in the 8 & 9 year old boys category in 4th.
The final combined scores from both days were then announced, with Robbie Lee winning a silver medal for his combined gym and pool scores and teammate Oliver Covell clinching the bronze.
Out of the 13 clubs that attended, SDA came a very respectable 3rd place in the overall team event, with the boys finishing an impressive 2nd and the girls 5th; considering that only 3 girls from SDA competed, this was an achievement in itself.
The entire SDA team did an amazing job and tried their very best against some of the best young divers in the country. For most of the team this was their first time competing at the Talent Games and they did SDA proud. Matt Roberts the SDA coach said
“I was delighted to see the young and upcoming divers from Southampton perform so well under pressure in such a high standard environment. This is a very positive experience for them and bodes well for the future”
The club were delighted to find out that Robbie Lee has subsequently been invited to join the England Talent Programme Zone Squad as a result of his performance at the Talent Games.