She may be a platform diver, but City of Sheffield’s Maisie Bond is looking to use the World Junior Diving Championships as a springboard to improving her future performances, as she and the rest of the British team get ready for the competition in Montreal, which starts on Sunday and runs from 27th November-4th December.
Bond has been an integral part of the international junior setup over the past two years at European Junior Championships, with the now-15-year-old securing individual gold at both the competition in Croatia and this year’s edition of the championships in Romania.
Speaking on the year so far as she gears up to round out 2022 in Canada, Maisie was mindful of the setbacks she has experienced, and how she has made progression against such barriers.
“I'd say 2022 has been a tough yet great year for me, starting off feeling ready for the year yet having a setback of finding out about my knee injury resulting in surgery was really tough for me mentally and physically. Finding out I couldn’t dive for a few months due to needing surgery wasn’t something I’d experienced before and was something new to me that I had to overcome," she explained.
"Personally my year didn’t start off the best at all but having knee surgery and time out of diving really helped me grow and realise how much I really missed diving. Getting back into diving was amazing, one of the best feelings, and winning my event Junior Elites (April's Elite Junior Diving Championships) meant the world after such a difficult few months, and qualifying for my second junior Europeans.
"Winning my second junior Europeans was 100 per cent the highlight of my year. It was incredible, I was so proud to do it all over again and show myself that I was still good enough, it was a real confidence booster.”
Every athlete involved at World Juniors in Montreal will be aiming for some strong early-season performances and to gain more valuable experience on the largest junior international stage as their progress on the pathway to regular senior competition continues - and Bond is no different.
She was a part of the 14-strong group who travelled to Florida for a senior training camp in preparation for the event last month, and she mixed with a host of Olympic, World Championship and European medallists. Maisie was full of admiration for the environment it provided when commenting on the opportunity.
“The camp in Florida was amazing being the youngest in that large group of divers has been tough in past experiences but I felt so welcome and happy. I enjoyed myself and had a good time, everyone on that team is genuinely so lovely and like big brothers and sisters to me and I can’t thank them enough, it just made me excited for future events with them all!" she added.
There is British representation across 15 of the 17 diving events in Canada, including further world opportunities for a host of European Junior medallists from a few months ago - such as Bond, Jorden Fisher-Eames and Robbie Lee - as well as Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Amy Rollinson (both Dive London), whose debut senior campaign has seen them appear together at World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
As ever with junior diving events, this World Junior Championships will see competition across Group A and Group B categories, with divers in Group A events aged 16, 17 or 18 years on 31st December 2022, and Group B athletes aged 14 or 15 on that date.
Speaking on her outlook on the eve of the championships, Bond gave a levelled take on her chances, as well as how she looks to take in the atmosphere in what is the pinnacle of junior diving.
“I’m feeling a little nervous but I think for myself I just want to focus on my own dives and trying to improve certain aspects of those dives instead of where I place. I want to make sure I’m happy with my dives and just see where that puts me in the standings. I’m nervous yet excited to compete in my first World Juniors," said Maisie.
Whilst Bond is still one of the more junior members of the squad, her time at the competition will see her join up with the aforementioned Bent-Ashmeil and World Championship medallist Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, as they both take to the junior stage for the final time. Competing in Canada to round out 2022 is an opportunity Maisie will look to make the most of as she gave comment on what she hopes to improve on for 2023 and beyond.
“I’m just looking forward to creating a list I think I can do well with, I’m excited for what 2023 has to offer me and I just want to take it one step at a time and focus on myself and my dives and creating a list on 10m."
The competition gets underway this Sunday (27th November). Keep an eye on FINA's website and YouTube channels for more info