For Olympic diver Lizzie Cui a 13th placing in the 3m springboard at this year’s FINA World Champs was bittersweet.
“I was really happy with that result and it was great to be up there against the best divers in the world but the top 12 get automatic entry to Tokyo 2020 so it was a hard pill to swallow in some ways,” said Cui.
It was a huge competition for the 22-year-old who earlier placed 8th in the non-Olympic discipline of the 1m springboard.
“I can’t remember the last time a New Zealander made a final at the Diving World Champs so it was awesome to get there.”
The results were a massive confidence booster for the Aucklander who is now even more set on qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
And she’ll get the chance to do just that, in front of a home crowd at the Oceania Swimming Championships in December.
“That’ll be in Auckland which is the home pool, I haven’t competed there since I was a young kid so that’ll be insane. The winner of that competition gets an Olympic spot so that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Cui has been New Zealand’s most successful diver in recent years and was the first diver to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games in 24 years when she competed at Rio 2016.
Since then the Aucklander has been based at Louisiana State University in the US where she trains twice a day every day.
“Diving is massive over here and the coaching is really good as well.
“In season you’re competing every weekend against some really good people which helps you to improve so much. You just don’t get that at home because we’re so far away and diving is so small in New Zealand.”
Although she’s now been in the States more than four years Cui says she’s never been as proud as when she’s competing for her homeland.
“There’s no better feeling than putting on the fern and black and white and diving for New Zealand, I love it!”