Hemel Hempstead’s teenage diving sensation Olivia Reeve has made it into the top-three in the British rankings for her age group – less than a year after being forced to switch her attention away from gymnastics.
Earlier this month, 16-year-old Olivia competed at the 2014 British Gas Elite Junior Diving Championships – her very first top level British elite event – where she put in a stunning display to make both finals and grab fourth place overall in the 1m and 3m competitions.
She was highest scoring A class rookie and her performance – which came just a month after winning on all three boards at the East Region Championships – helped her to secure her top-three national ranking.
However, the rise to the top has been far from straightforward for Olivia, who originally had her sights set on a glittering gymnastics career.
Despite an abundance of talent, Olivia struggled with foot pain while training at gymnastics in the USA early in 2012. She came back to the UK where her family arranged private treatment.
It was then that doctors discovered that she had been training for the past two years with an old injury which turned out to be a misdiagnosed fracture that hadn’t healed.
Olivia was operated on in December 2012 where they cut the unhealed bone away, before spending the next seven months recuperating and training only her top half body in gymnastics, as well as swimming to stay fit.
She saw a foot specialist again as her injury had still not healed and, after 11 years of gymnastics, had to make the decision to quit.
Not about to let her sporting dreams fade away, in August 2013 Olivia made the decision to switch sports and started diving full-time six days a week with her long term ex-Olympic team head coach Derek Beaumont.
Olivia soon realised that diving did not affect her injury and, just three months later she was competing in Lund, Sweden at her very first international – winning the competition and posting the second highest junior score in Europe.
The following week Olivia competed in Scotland, winning the Scottish Open Junior & Senior Championship, then in April 2014 she went to the Amsterdam Cup in Holland where she ended with a failed dive but still came home in fifth place.
At the county diving awards, Olivia won nearly every award going including Overall Diver of the Year; Junior Girl Diver Of The Year; Highest Scoring Senior Female Diver; Highest Scoring Junior Female Diver and Highest Scored Dive.
Further recognition went to Olivia for smashing all the long standing Herts county diving records by more than 50 pts which were held by Commonwealth bronze medalist and former Olympian Haley Sage since 2008.
Olivia, representing Herts & GB, is also currently in with a chance of winning a prize in the Jack Wills Young Brits 2014 competition.
If she wins, the £5,000 prize will go towards her training expenses and her bid to make the 2016 Olympics.
To vote for Olivia, please visit www.jackwills.com/en-gb/features/young-brits/vote by June 15.