West Ealing diver Georgia Ward is quickly accumulating her fair share of experience of top level international competition, but she insists the excitement of pitting herself against the very best is as strong as the day she started.
Since claiming a clean sweep of Group A medals at the 2011 National Age Group Championships, Ward has gradually been making a name for herself, including winning her first individual British with 10m platform bronze in 2013.
The accolades have continued since on the domestic senior stage while she marked her European Diving Championship debut last year with 10m synchro silver with Robyn Birch.
Not bad for someone aged just 20, although arguably one of her biggest results so far came last month when she secured Team GB an individual 10m platform quota place at this summer’s Olympic Games when she reached the final of the Rio World Cup.
It was a result which left her flying high on confidence although the former Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School pupil is not resting on her laurels.
“It’s been hard to come back down from the high of Rio. I always get excited when I go away to a big competition although I was slightly nervous as well,” she said.
“I was so proud to be able to qualify a place for Team GB at the Olympics. I was quite nervous before every competition but because it meant so much to me, I definitely felt the added pressure.
“I just tried to keep my routine as normal as possible and concentrate on doing the basics right.
“I don’t think I will ever get used to competing against the best in the world. I just get so excited going away to all these competitions, I’m so fortunate to be able to travel around and I don’t think that will ever wear off.
“The step up from junior to senior was a bit of a nerve wracking one and I had to learn how to cope with that.
“I have come a long way in the last few years. Competing in Rio, it showed that I can compete with the best. I’ve got some new dives to learn and that will help increase my difficulty levels too.”
Success in Rio does not guarantee Ward 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 former Crystal Palace 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.
Ward herself already trains at the venue under the tutelage of coach Jane Figueiredo, having switched in late 2014.
And she admits having the expertise of Figueiredo, who also trains the likes of Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley, had helped progress her performances.
“It’s really useful having Jane as my coach, she knows exactly what I need to work on and how to go about it,” she added.
“She is always so positive and she makes me want to be the best I can be. I was quite nervous moving to a new club, especially as she is such a high level coach.
“But she made me feel at home straight away. I just love going to training now, even if it means having to get up early in the morning.”
Tickets for the European Aquatics Championships – the biggest event to be held at the London Aquatics Centre since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games – from May 9-22 are now available here: www.euroaquatics2016.london
Image courtesy of Ben Terrett, with thanks