Professional diver Matty Lee has already competed in many competitions, including this year’s European Diving Championships and World Aquatics Championships, and he is working towards qualifying for future events and making the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games diving team for Great Britain. Before Matty started diving full-time, he was already a medallist in gymnastics and he has now added many more medals to his career as a diver. Recently catching up with Matty, we find out about his diving career so far, preparing for competitions and his nomination in 2015 BBC Young Sportsman of the Year.
Do you get nervous before competitions?
Always! Nerves are normal and good, use them to fire yourself up.
How do you stay focused if a medal depends on your final dive?
It’s hard to say! You never really want to know that this is the case but I try to block out all the thoughts and just focus on my dive.
What’s it like standing on the podium after winning a medal?
It’s a crazy experience! I just feel relieved that all the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made has paid off and it was all worthwhile.
Do you find it easier diving alone or with a partner?
Diving with a partner in synchro is much easier because you have a friend with you, the pressure doesn’t feel as intense and your partner can distract you from all the nerves.
How are the pairings decided for synchronised diving?
Very simply! Usually, the two best male or female divers that dive off the same height e.g. 3-metre springboard or 10-metre platform are put together, however sometimes there might be a big difference in physique, so then they take the next best diver.
How many hours do you have to train to prepare for a competition?
Well, I train around twenty-five hours, two sessions a day and one day off per week and we do this throughout the year to prepare for these competitions.
What food do you have to avoid when in training?
There’s nothing that I really need to avoid, just to have certain types of foods in moderation. I train hard so I can enjoy some good food at the weekend.
Do you have any competitions coming up in the next few months?
My season starts in January with the British National Cup, this is where I can qualify for the big competitions later in the year, for example, the Commonwealth Games.
Are you hoping to make the team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?
I am indeed. I just missed out on Rio 2016 so I’ve been working very hard to become the best I can be. With that, I should be able to qualify.
How did you get into diving?
Well, my older brother (Tom Lee, 25) used to dive before me so when I was learning to swim, my grandparents would take me up to the stands after my lesson to watch my brother dive, I loved it.
We understand you used to do gymnastics, what made you decide on a career in diving rather than gymnastics?
I guess I was better at diving and I enjoyed it a lot more. I think I made the right decision, haha.
What is your favourite height to dive from?
The height I dive from is the 10-metre platform which is a solid piece of concrete that’s obviously ten metres high in the air.
What divers inspired you growing up?
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Greg Louganis but you’ve probably seen a video of him, he dominated the world of diving around the years of 1984-1988, but at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 he hit his head on the diving board however he carried on and won Gold.
How did you find out you had reached the finals in the BBC Young Sportsman of the Year 2015?
I’m pretty sure my dad told me, I was really shocked by the news! Hopefully it won’t be the last time I get nominated.
How do you like to spend your free time?
If I ever get free time usually I’ll be tired from training but if I manage to get myself out of bed, I like to spend good quality time with my friends.
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