Aug. 1, 2017
It means a lot to be the first South African to make it to the finals at the World Championships.
"When I hit the water on my last dive [of semifinals], I thought maybe it would get me through to the finals, but I wasn't expecting it. I thought I was going to finish 13th. Only the top 12 make it. I knew I needed a good dive, but I was just trying to have fun.
Then I saw my name up on the screen, and I got up and ran to [South Carolina diving coach] Todd [Sherritt]. It was a really happy moment.
It means a lot to be the first South African to make it to the finals at the World Championships. Hopefully it's a start for future generations coming up.
The Olympics are very similar to the World Championships because there are a lot of sports going on. Although Rio was a very fun experience for me, I didn't perform the way I had wanted to. Coming to this meet I wanted to be free in my diving, believe in myself, and go through the whole thing fearlessly. That made it a much more enjoyable experience. It was almost like a good redemption meet for me. To put South Africa's name out in the diving world, it was a big moment for me.
Before my first dive [of the finals], my coach came over very quickly and prayed for me. He gave me one or two points I had to remember to do my dive. Then he let me be and relax so I could get on the board and do my thing.
In the finals, I was the first diver because they go in reverse order, and I was the 12th diver going in. I didn't really look up into the stands because I knew that would intimidate me. I stood on the board. I cleared my mind. It's what I do every single time I dive.
The dive was a full out, so it's a front two and a half flips with one twist in it. I just started walking down the board, and when I hit the water I knew it was a decent dive. To hit the water was a relief because the first dive of any meet is very nerve-wracking. You don't want to start the meet badly.
I looked back immediately to the scoreboard because I just wanted to know that it went OK. Most of the time I know roughly what the score is going to be when I hit the water because I've been doing this for so long. It was nice to swim out and realize it was OK. It was a relief.
I hope this does establish me as a medal contender. My coach always tells me that you want to make a name for yourself early on in the four year cycle. I'm hoping this will give me a lot of confidence. Now I know I can compete against the best in the world. I never had that confirmation before.
It was fun. It was nerve-wracking, and it was the rush that I do this sport for!"
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