A record squad of eight divers has been named to represent New Zealand at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The squad is the largest ever New Zealand diving team for a Commonwealth Games, with the sport experiencing substantial growth across recent years.

The team features six Commonwealth Games debutants, as well as two-time Commonwealth Games athlete Liam Stone and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Anton Down-Jenkins.

22-year-old Down-Jenkins heads into the Games as one to watch, having last year produced New Zealand’s best ever diving result at an Olympic Games, placing 8th at Tokyo 2020.

“It is going to be so fun heading to Birmingham with the biggest diving team New Zealand has ever sent to a senior international competition,” said Down-Jenkins.

“We have so much talent and I’m so proud of how far this sport has come across our country. It’s going to be a really good stepping-stone for Diving New Zealand’s Olympic Campaign as we look to qualify and send a similar sized team to Paris 2024.”

“I experienced so much tautoko both during and after the Olympics last year. Seeing how much Aotearoa really got behind me while I was competing in Tokyo makes me so excited to get back on the boards and wear the silver fern again. It’s kind of crazy to see how much I’ve improved and how much my diving has changed since competing at the last Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, so I’m looking for a bit of redemption this second time around. A few less manus would be awesome, small splashes only this time.”

Down-Jenkins is originally from Wellington and is set to compete in the 3m springboard. He has permission to start in the 1m springboard and 3m synchronised springboard alongside Liam Stone.

Stone will also contest the 3m individual springboard and 1m springboard. The selection completes a remarkable comeback for the 25-year-old. Building up to the Tokyo Olympics Stone suffered a serious back injury putting him out of diving completely. Against the odds, after 18 months, Stone managed to evade surgery and rehab his way back to the boards. Since returning to competition in December 2021, Stone has performed in several domestic competitions, most recently being the NZ nationals where he picked up 3 titles in the men's 1m, men's 3m and men's 3m synchro. 

Joining them in the squad are six Commonwealth Games debutants, three of whom are still at High School.

Contesting the 10m synchronised platform are 17-year-old Onslow College student Arno Lee and 18-year-old Luke Sipkes, with Sipkes also receiving permission to start in the 10m individual platform.

They’re joined by 22-year-old Nathan Brown from Wellington who will contest the 10m individual platform.

Maggie Squire is the youngest member of the squad at just 16 years old. The year 12 Takapuna Grammar student will contest the 1m springboard and has permission to start in the 3m springboard.

She will also contest the Mixed 3m Synchronised Springboard, alongside 20-year-old Auckland University student Frazer Tavener.

Rounding out the team is 17-year-old Albany High School student Mikali Dawson who will contest the 10m platform. Dawson only began diving three years ago after injury left her unable to compete in gymnastics.

“Being able to experience the dream every little kid has of going to the Commonwealth Games is such a surreal experience that really blows my mind. I am so beyond grateful for everything the sport has done for me and so excited to see what is in store for the future,” said Dawson.

Diving New Zealand Chairman, Lindsay Stone, says this is one of the best days in Diving New Zealand’s history.

He credits much of the success to a strong recruitment and talent identification process in schools and the outcomes of a strong national skills development programme delivered at club level.

“Diving New Zealand has invested heavily in coach development across the country and there is no doubt that this has contributed to a fantastic outcome,” said Stone.

“This, in turn, has developed a great diving culture made up of good people, hard work and enjoyment from everyone involved. The athletes and coaches deserve every success that has come their way.”

NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.

“Well done to all of the athletes named to the team today,” said Nicol. “We’re thrilled to have eight diving athletes in our team for Birmingham and we can’t wait to watch you compete next month in Birmingham.”

The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 80.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
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