Fifteen-year-old diver Bryden Hattie of Colwood has put himself on the watch list as a member of Tomorrow’s Team Canada.
While that recent honour comes with a $5,000 grant, courtesy of Petro Canada and its Fuelling Athletes and Coaches Excellence (FACE) program, Hattie secured a spot on Team Canada this summer for the upcoming 2016 junior world championships in Russia with a stunning three-medal performance at the Speedo Elite Junior Nationals in Winnipeg.
The Boardworks Club diver said the grant, which helps cover the costs of travel and other expenses at competitions in which he is not either invited or a qualifier, will motivate him to work toward his goal of competing for Canada on the big stage.
“I was super excited when I heard,” he said before departing for Montreal to take part in a national training camp this week. “This is fuelling me for the Olympics in 2020 (in Tokyo).”
He was the youngest male athlete competing at the Canadian Olympic Trials in June and got a chance to immerse himself in a most challenging competitive environment.
“It was difficult,” he said of the trials, which pitted some of the country’s top divers – certain athletes were pre-qualified for the Olympic team – against each other on the three-metre board and 10-metre platform. “I was really scared so I didn’t feel comfortable.”
Hattie, in Grade 10 at Claremont secondary, hopes those nerves will subside as he competes more internationally. He added to his international resume at a youth meet last spring in Dresden, Germany, where he placed third on the platform and seventh at three metres.
It was a surprise gold medal win on the one-metre springboard in Group B (age 13 and 14) at the junior nationals in July – surprising only because it’s not considered his strongest event – that qualified him for the junior worlds in Kazan, Russia this December.
He actually qualified first in the preliminaries and was the last athlete to dive in the finals. Feeling good about his effort as he climbed out of the pool, he heard coach Tommy McLeod say to him, “Hey, you just won that event.”
“When I’m diving, I try to stay calm and talk to my teammates and stuff, but once I realized I had won a medal I was pretty excited,” Hattie recalled.
He also collected silver medals in the three-metre and 10-metre (platform) events at the nationals, which prompted officials to name him the top B-level diver at the competition. Yet another honour came when he was given the Isabel Warren Memorial Award for having the best scores on compulsory dives among Group B boys.
Hattie will compete in Group B in Russia since he qualified at that level, but moves up to Group A (age 15 to 17) for the 2016-17 club and regional season getting underway this fall.
“I feel really excited for him,” said Hattie’s mom, Laura. “He’s been working so hard, so it’s nice to see him achieve this honour.”
Hattie practises eight times a week for a total of about 24 hours, more than half of which is in the water after school at Commonwealth Pool. A significant portion is dedicated to dryland training or lifting weights at PISE.
Juggling training and school can be difficult, he added, but Claremont is well-versed in academy programs and is able to provide some flexibility in studies for high-level athletes.
Having been active in the sport since he was five, he’s used to having a busy schedule. But as he continues to reach for the stars as one of Canada’s athletes of tomorrow, that juggling act will become even more challenging.