Diving stars 'buzzing' after trip Down Under
PLYMOUTH Diving duo Shanice Lobb and Francesca del Celo said coming back with medals from 'the best event' of their lives has left them buzzing since returning home from Australia.
Lobb and del Celo proudly displayed their bronze medals claimed in record-breaking heats at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
Plymouth-born Lobb and Londoner del Celo came third in the 10m and three-metre synchro competitions respectively.
In both events, the pair reached the podium partnered by Great Britain team-mate Georgia Ward.
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Fourteen-year-old Lobb and del Celo, who is 16, are fast forging reputations as two of the UK's best young divers which they helped confirm in the multi-sport Australian Olympic event.
Del Celo and Lobb have competed and medalled together before, at last year's European Junior Diving Championships, at Graz, in Austria.
Lobb also won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships at Adelaide, Australia last year, where she had Tom Daley for company on Team GB.
But although the girls are becoming experienced travellers, they had no hesitation placing the Sydney competition on top of the podium.
Devonport High School for Girls student Lobb said: "I've been to quite a few competitions now but this one is definitely the best.
"It's been so much fun for Frankie and myself meeting so many people involved in so many different sports both for Great Britain and other countries.
"We both gained personal best points totals when we were out in Australia which is a bonus, given the level of the competition we were both up against.
"Winning medals against very good athletes and getting exposure in the papers gives you so much encouragement and confidence.
"Last year, I improved my performances and results greatly, through changing things around in my training schedule.
"It has paid dividends for me."
Del Celo admitted she was enjoying 'very much' training with Andy Banks at Plymouth Diving and the her education at Plymouth College, and life in the city in general.
She said: "I'm loving it down here in Plymouth – it's all a lot more relaxed as a city than in London and I'm making a lot of new friends.
"I hadn't been able to find a school that would accommodate me with my A Levels and a city where I could carry on with my diving ambitions.
"Plymouth College were able to help me do both and so here I am and I've found the school, the club and the city great."
Del Celo said that having two high-profile athletes in Olympic gold medallist Ruta Meilutyte and Tom Daley at Plymouth College is a big help, too.
And linking up with Lobb again has also eased the heartache of shifting from her parents and down to the South West.
"It's really nice to be able to train with Shanice whom I already knew through competing at nationals and working out at the Life Centre with my coach Andy Banks.
"The facilities are far better than I had at Crystal Palace and I think they are wonderful.
"Andy Banks is a really good coach: he doesn't shout at you but manages to get to you to do what he wants through persuasion and persistence.
"I think we both want to carry on moving forward this year and test ourselves against senior and more established divers," said del Celo.
"That way we can measure our improvement over a season."
See Page 3 for news on Tom Daley's Splash!