Australia’s youngest Commonwealth Games competitor is a gold medalist after withstanding a challenge from two English teams to triumph alongside a legend of the sport.
One is Australia’s most successful female diver — the other a newbie with just one international competition to her name — but together they have won a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Charli Petrov, just 14, never imagined she would get the chance to stand on top of the podium alongside her hero turned mentor and synchro partner.
She was the youngest competitor in the field, the youngest on the Australian team and the same age as Melissa Wu when she won her first Commonwealth Games medal in 2006.
It was just her second international event.
“This is just the most amazing thing ever,” Petrov said.
“The past 24 hours have been full of either tears or anxiety so going out there and to be going home with a gold medal is just crazy.”
Watching them flip, twist and tumble off the 10m platform as one – it is hard to believe Olympian Wu and 14-year-old Petrov only started diving together four months ago.
It is even harder to believe that less than 12 months ago Wu suffered what could have been a career-ending injury.
“This year has been a really big struggle for me with my body and injury, at one point I literally couldn’t touch my toes,” Wu said.
“I couldn’t imagine diving off the 10m platform when I was in the depths of being really injured. I got the injury on SAS Australia but I took a lot of lessons from that, it is a bit ironic, but what I learned on the show also helped me push through the injury and I’m really proud of my efforts.”
It was the injury that forced Wu back to synchronized diving as it requires dives of a less difficult nature.
The medal is a full-circle achievement for Wu who has gone from being in Petrov’s shoes, to playing the mentor.
“I love that I have been able to have such a long career in diving but then to be able to do things with Charli and see the next generation coming up, that is the best feeling ever,” Wu said.
Despite Petrov’s age and nerves before the dive Wu said she was impressed with the teen’s composure come the competition.
“We really feed off each other,” Wu said. “It is great seeing other divers at such a young age being able to hold their own.”
It was their consistency that helped them win gold, finishing with 306 points, ahead of the two English pairings of Eden Cheng/Andrea Spendolini-Siriex and Robyn Birch/Emily Martin.
Petrov said she had loved her first Games experience and was looking forward to hopefully competing in Paris in 2024.
She plans to keep a close eye on her gold medal, but her youngest brother and No. 1 fan Oskar, who got to watch from the stands in Birmingham, will be gifted her Perry mascot.
Fellow Aussie synchro pair Nikita Hains and Emily Boyd didn’t stick their second dive and with just six teams in the competition it was always going to be hard to work their way back on to the podium.
AUSSIE DUO TURN HEARTBREAK INTO GOLD
Four years ago Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith sank when a gold medal was in their grasp at the Gold Coast.
But in Birmingham the duo’s redemption story was realized as they finally added a Commonwealth Games gold medal to their collection after victory in the women’s synchronized 3m springboard final.
Four years ago at the Gold Coast the two Australians were the favorites to take out the gold medal but finished last when they wiped out on their final dive.
The pair were leading going into the final dive but Keeney lost her way in the air on the forward two and a half somersault two twists pike and landed awkwardly in the water.
“It was so hard to process because it was my fault on the Gold Coast,” Keeney said. “I never thought I would be able to get it (the gold), I’ve struggled with nerves a lot so it is special.”
The two Australians, who won bronze at the Olympics, were cool and collected in a dominant display – finishing with a score of 316.53.
They quickly showed they were a class above the field, especially with their synchronization.
They nearly cracked the 50 point mark for their opening back and reverse dives and only impressed more as the competition went on, nailing their inward 2 ½ somersault, their forward 3 ½ somersault and finally their forward 2 ½ somersault with one twist.
“It feels sweet,” Smith said.
Malaysia’s Yan Yee Ng and Nur Dhabitah Binti Sabri were second with 299.85 points, while Canada’s Margo Claire Erlam and Mia Jolie Doucet Vallee were in the bronze medal position with 297 points.
The Commonwealth Games gold does complete the medal collection for Keeney and Smith, but they still have a big goal in mind.
“Olympic gold,” Keeney said.
The other Australian pair of Brittany Mae O’Brien and Fan Qin finished last after a shocker of a fourth dive ended their chances of a medal.
Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022: Diving gold for two Australian duos