HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
OH, SO OLYMPIC CLOSE: When Kate Miller was six years old, her mother took her to Ottawa’s Walter Baker Pool for an open swim. But when Kate left the building about an hour later, she was convinced she would become a diver.
Blame that sport switch on the pool lifeguard, who did an eye-catching flip that Kate just happened to see. She couldn’t resist the urge to mimic it. Even though she was too young to be on the boards, she found her way to the 3-metre springboard and gave it a shot.
Needless to say, her mother was horrified. When her blood-pressure reading returned to normal, she figured maybe her daughter was telling her something. Kate Miller, who trains at the Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club, was ahead of her time, just like today.
A decade later, Miller qualified last year to test her skills against the best in Canada at the recent Diving Canada Olympic trials in Toronto. But she knew that no matter how well she dove, she wouldn’t be going to the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Just like when she was too young to step onto the 3-metre springboard at age six, Miller didn’t meet the age criteria to represent Canada at the Summer Games, which begin this week in Tokyo. She was a year too young, having just turned 16.
But the Olympic trials also were a multi-purpose meet. They were her national senior championships (third on platform, eighth on 3-metre) and Miller also was trying to qualify for the Junior Pan American championships Oct. 5-10 in Tucson, Arizona.
Miller was a silver medallist in both the women’s A (16-18 year olds) and B (14-15) platform finals at last week’s Canadian junior diving championships in Montreal. She was 0.15 points behind champion Katelyn Fung of Forest City in the A final.
In her 3-metre springboard competitions, Miller was fourth in the class B final and sixth in the class A final. Sara Lupa of Gatquatic placed third in the women’s class C (12-13) platform and fourth in the 3-metre meet. Megan Lupa of Gatquatic was fifth on women’s B class 3-metre and ninth on platform.
Miller, who was fourth in platform at the 2020 national senior championships in Saskatoon and scored enough points to earn an invite to the Olympic trials, was thrilled to compete with divers like Jennifer Abel, Celina Toth and Pamela Ware in Toronto.
“I wasn’t allowed to make the Olympic team, even if I made the score. I was too young,” Miller said in a recent interview. “What I was trying to qualify for was the (Junior) Pan Americans. But the trials were a really great experience.”
Miller also took away many valuable lessons, which she hopes will allow her to make future Canadian international teams and the 2024 Summer Olympics. One lesson was to improve her focus.
“We do five dives and if I mess up on one, I would get mad and it would affect me. I will try to focus better, do my best, forget the bad dive and stay positive. I’ll try to do my next dive super well,” she added.
When it comes to diving, she favours the 10-metre platform competition and her results are often a reflection of that. In the past two seasons, she has become familiar with the 7.5-metre and now 10-metre platforms.
“I just think I have more adrenalin on the tower,” she explained. “I dive better when there’s more adrenalin. I like to tuck dive and when I’m tower diving, I do a lot more tuck dives.”
Miller was “very nervous” for the trials.
“They were all staring at me and I hate when I’m being stared at. I got nervous, but the adrenalin helped. After diving, I felt empowered,” she highlighted. “The trials were definitely a great experience and I’ll have to do it in a couple of years.
“It’s all about experience, how to do better and how to stay better focused.”
Miller will take another step in that direction next year, when she moves to Toronto to continue her development at Diving Canada’s national training centre and pursue international assignments. But not before thanking her home club.
“My coach at the Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club, Fernando Henderson, has been super good,” she indicated. “He’s the reason I have done so well in my diving career. He has taught me everything.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.