Tanya Watson becomes first Irish female diver to qualify for Olympics
The 19-year-old reached the semi-finals at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo
Ireland’s Tanya Watson has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images
Team Ireland diver Tanya Watson made history on Tuesday morning by becoming Ireland’s first female diver to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The 19-year-old scored 271.85 in the preliminary round of the 10m Platform at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo, seeing her finish in 16th position and advance to the semi-finals.
Watson needed to finish in the top-18 to gain qualification for the Tokyo Games, and having posted her second-best score in a FINA competition this morning, she could yet improve her overall finishing position in Wednesday’s semi-finals, which begin at 8am Irish time.
Watson has had a tumultuous 12 months trying to find a pool to train in, with her regular pool unavailable during UK lockdown periods.
Primarily based at the Southampton Diving Academy in England under the expert eye of Lindsey Fraser, Watson has spent much of her time in this period training at the National Centre in Dublin under Ireland’s national head coach fordDiving, Damian Ball, and alongside Oliver Dingley and Clare Cryan.
Reflecting on an unforgettable moment, Watson said: “It has been a really emotional time for me and I just got it together at the right time.
“After this last year, from everything being postponed, and living away from home for so long, I am very grateful that I was able to qualify Ireland a spot for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“It wasn’t perfect, I need to work on dive two [of five], but I am excited for the semi-finals and for what’s to come this summer.”
Watson added: “I cannot thank enough everyone who helped me get here.”
Ohio-based Ciara McGing was also competing for Ireland in the 10m Platform and finished 23rd with a score of 240.95.
Ball said: “What a brilliant day for Irish diving, the girls were amazing this morning. To show that much composure, in such a high-pressure moment, at a young age, is truly incredible.
“We got off to a flying start with both girls nearing the top of the table after round one, both girls dropped critical points in round two, but kept their cool with strong dives in round three and four. Their final dives needed to be good, the pressure was on, and they both delivered great last dives.
“What a moment, I’m really proud of Tanya and Ciara.”
McGing, who now trains at Ohio State University in the US after spending all of her formative years with National Centre (Dublin), had set a new Irish Women’s 10m Platform record of 307 points in February at the Big Ten College meet at Purdue University in Indiana.
Tuesday morning’s finishing position means McGing will have an anxious two weeks while she waits for FINA to determine whether that position will also qualify her for the Games alongside Watson.
The 20-year-old will now refocus on a big performance at the LEN European Championships in Budapest next week.
Joining Watson on the schedule on Wednesday will be Rio 2016 Olympian Oliver Dingley, the last of the team to dive. Dingley was Ireland’s first Olympic diver in 68 years at Rio, where he finished as a finalist, and he will begin his bid for a return to that level at 2am on Wednesday morning in the Men’s 3m Springboard.