SASI divers to mix with world's best

30 May 2017

OUTSTANDING young South Australian athletes Taneka Kovchenko and Matthew Carter will represent Australia for the first time on the big stage when they compete at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, from July 14 to 22.

Diving Australia announced the 10-member team, including the SA duo, after the recent national championships in Sydney which was a selection trial for the world event.

Taneka, who will compete in the 10m and 10m synchro events in Budapest, said she was thrilled to be competing on the big stage.

"I am very excited to have made the team,'' she said. "My preparation was very good leading up to the event and the nationals was such strong competition. I am looking forward to competing in the synchro and individual events. It was so good to have my parents Alex and Michelle in Sydney to see me as they live in Queensland and I don't get to see them too much while I am in Adelaide.

"The opposition at the worlds is obviously going to be much stronger. I would be really pleased to make the finals or even the semi finals would be great. But first I have some exams at uni to do in about two weeks.''

Matthew, 16, a Year 11 student at Pembroke School, said he also was looking forward to testing himself against the best divers.

He will team with Kevin Chavez in the 3m synchro but could still be a chance to compete in the individual events if either Olympians Chavez or James Connor are injured or miss the titles for any reason.

''I was very happy with the way I went (at nationals) although I would have loved to have made the men's 3m,'' he said.

''But the experience will be great. My aim was to make the world championships team, which I have done. I will then aim for the Commonwealth Games and hopefully the Olympics a bit further away.''

For the time being the Pembroke student will be juggling homework and studies as he prepares for an increase in training in the lead up to the titles.

Matthew and Taneka and their synchro partners (Kevin Chavez and Melissa Wu) will attend a training camp in Sydney and then the world team will train in Leeds from July 5.

The 10-member Australian team for Budapest includes seven members of the Rio Olympic team.

The team consists of Olympic medalists Melissa Wu, Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney, Commonwealth Games gold medalists Domonic Bedggood and Esther Qin and Olympians Chavez and Connor who round out the Rio contingent.

Newcomers include Matthew, (who will partner Chavez in the 3-metre Synchro), Taneka (who will contest both the individual 10m and partner Melissa Wu in 10m Synchro) and former elite gymnast Declan Stacey (who will compete individually and also partner Domonic Bedggood in 10m Synchro).

Unfortunately for SASI athlete Grant Nel, this will be the first Worlds event he will miss in 11 years. Grant had shoulder surgery late last year after the Rio Olympics and is still unable to compete.

However, the South Australian Sports Institute showed its high-performance program depth with Matthew and Taneka's results.

The Australian team is:

Melissa Wu - 10m, 10m Synchro, 10m Mixed Synchro

Taneka Kovchenko - 10m, 10m Synchro

Maddison Keeney - 1m, 3m, 3m Synchro, 3m Mixed Synchro

Anabelle Smith - 3m, 3m Synchro

Esther Qin - 1m

Domonic Bedggood - 10m, 10m Synchro, 10m Mixed Synchro, 3m Mixed Synchro

Declan Stacey - 10m, 10m Synchro

James Connor - 1m, 3m

Kevin Chavez - 1m, 3m, 3m Synchro

Matthew Carter - 3m Synchro.

Diving athletes selected