Fourteen of Australia’s best divers have been selected to the Australian Commonwealth Games team and are ready to make a minimal splash in Birmingham.
Highly decorated divers and a rising star have been selected to represent Australia at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Melissa Wu, Domonic Bedggood, Georgia Sheehan and Esther Qin, all reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallists, headline a richly talented squad of 14 divers who are ready to make a minimal splash in Birmingham.
In a sport where the young and experienced compete equally, 14-year-old Charli Petrov and Shixin Li, 34, will debut for Australia at the Commonwealth Games.
And the partnership of 30-year-old Wu and teenager Petrov in the 10-metre platform synchronised diving presents a rare pairing where the face of the future will combine with an Australian diving legend.
Petrov wasn’t born when Wu, who is from Sydney, emerged as a wunderkind with rare world-class potential in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, where she claimed a silver medal on debut as a 13-year-old. Now Birmingham marks Wu’s fifth appearance at the Commonwealth Games, the first Australian diver to achieve this milestone.
Wu went on to claim gold medals at the Delhi 2010 Games in the 10-metre platform synchronised diving and the Gold Coast in 2018 in the 10-metre individual platform event. She has also claimed silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup meetings in a brilliant international career.
With Wu’s superstar status in the sport, it’s no surprise that up and comer Petrov, from Melbourne, is delighted to be making her international debut alongside the champion. Petrov spoke of her excitement when the pair excelled at the recent Australian Open Diving Championships in Melbourne.
“I am so excited to be part of my first Commonwealth Games team for Birmingham,” Petrov said.
“I remember growing up and watching Mel (Wu) compete at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics – that’s how I got into the sport. I still pinch myself when we’re up there on the tower and I look beside me and see her standing there.
“She makes diving such a fun time and I can’t wait to compete with her again.”
Domonic Bedggood, originally from Queensland and now based in Melbourne, made his Commonwealth Games debut at Glasgow in 2014 when partnering Matthew Mitcham to gold in the 10-metre platform synchronised diving.
At the Gold Coast Games in 2018 he was a star performer in the individual 10-metre platform, winning a second gold medal. He has also won bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.
Bedggood said he is looking forward to returning to the international stage after taking a break from the sport to focus on his mental health.
“Coming back to diving after such a long break, I didn’t have too many expectations, so it’s very special for me and for everyone who has been a part of the journey,” he said.
“Having the time off to reflect has made me appreciate my career and the opportunities I’ve been given. Going into these Games I want to be able to enjoy it. Sport isn’t forever and it’s about making the most of these moments.
“The Commonwealth Games are something that not many people ever get to be a part of, and I’m one of the lucky ones, so I’m going to Birmingham to give it my all.”
Bedggood will take to the platform alongside Brisbane’s Cassiel Rousseau, 21, who he has been mentoring.
Rousseau, who competed for Australia in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is the grandson of French cyclist Michel Rousseau, who was a gold medallist at the Melbourne 1956 Olympics.
Rousseau and Bedggood dominated the recent national championships in Melbourne, but compatriot Sam Fricker was another diver showing great promise there.
Fricker, who is considered a bright light in diving, has inspired a new generation of Australians to fall in love with the sport of diving through his online charisma and down to earth demeanour.
At 34, Shixin Li is at the upper end of the age scale when it comes to divers making their Commonwealth Games debut, but this Melbourne-based competitor has significant experience.
The Chinese-born Australian claimed two World Championships gold medals in the one-metre springboard for China in Shanghai (2011) and Barcelona (2013).
After moving to Australia to pursue coaching opportunities he rethought his decision to retire, and to his delight managed to represent his adopted nation at the Tokyo Olympics.
Esther Qin, 30, moved to Australia with her family in 2009 and has enjoyed great success at the Commonwealth Games, winning gold and bronze medals at Glasgow and the Gold Coast.
Anabelle Smith, 29, will be competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games after debuting with a bronze medal in the 10-metre synchronised platform at Delhi in 2010.
The Melburnian claimed further bronze medals at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 and has also performed with distinction at Olympic and World Championships level.
Maddison Keeney, 26, is hopeful of claiming gold in Birmingham after winning silvers in Glasgow and the Gold Coast, to go with a 2014 bronze from Scotland.
Commonwealth Games Australia Team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM believes the compelling international resumes of the diving squad stand them in good stead to excel at Birmingham.
“It has been a short turnaround for many of the team following the Tokyo Olympics, but they have continued to train and work hard towards today’s selection for the Commonwealth Games,” Thomas said.
“Australia has been fortunate to enjoy a golden history in diving, and I know these divers will be motivated to add their own names to this incredible legacy for the green and gold.”
Diving Australia CEO David Bell congratulated the 14 selected athletes while acknowledging the depth of talent within the diving squad.
“This team is a great mix of youth and experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can produce in Birmingham. I’d like to particularly acknowledge Melissa Wu being selected for her fifth Commonwealth Games – an amazing achievement,” Bell said.
“Our divers have enjoyed great success at the Commonwealth Games over the years, and I hope that this team will continue to inspire the next generation, especially as we look forward to welcoming the Games back to Australia in 2026.”
Diving Australia General Manager of High Performance and Pathways Steve Foley, a former Commonwealth Games competitor himself, said he is proud of this dedicated cohort and what they have been through to get to this moment.
“Having competed at three Commonwealth Games as a diver myself, I know the tremendous honour that comes with being selected on the Australian team,” Foley said.
“All 14 of our diving athletes have been working incredibly hard over the past four years to qualify for the Games, and I know they will continue to shine on the world stage in Birmingham.
“I’d like to congratulate the athletes on their selection and can’t wait to see them in action in just over 50 days’ time.”
Diving at Birmingham 2022 promises the spectacle of individual and synchronised divers maintaining immaculate form as they perform spectacular twists, turns and somersaults towards the water.
Mixed synchronised events make their Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham, bringing the total number of gold medals on offer to 12.
Australia and Canada are locked in neck-and-neck battle as the leading diving nation at the Commonwealth Games, with Canada just ahead on gold medals (38 v 37) and total medals (120 v 118).
Melissa Wu will become the first Australian and fourth diver from any nation to compete at five Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.