Photo: Diving Canada
By Charlie Pinkerton
Kate Miller would have been happy with just competing at the Pan American Junior Diving Championships.
But after breaking her toe before the competition, she’d never imagine she wouldn’t only reach the podium twice, but win a gold medal and be the first to hear O Canada played in her honour.
“I was just hoping not to come last,” the 12-year-old diver from the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club said with a laugh.
In the hotel she was staying in in Victoria, B.C., where the competition was held, she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her toe before she could even attempt one dive in the championships held Sept. 28 – Oct. 1.
“She was really limping and was clearly hurt but we didn’t know if it was broken or not,” Fernando Henderson, head coach of the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club said about Miller’s injury.
“She dove excellent. She didn’t really show any sign of pain.”
It wasn’t until after the competition that she found out about the break, so she dove all weekend with a taped foot and avoided walking on it during her downtime.
“There was so much adrenaline that I just completely forgot about the pain,” Miller said about how it felt during the competition.
She persevered and won a gold in the platform event in the girls’ 12-13 age group, edging fellow Canadian Tatiana Conn from Calgary by less than a point.
Miller was the first Canadian competitor to win first place at the competition. Henderson thinks she inspired the other Canadians participating with her performance.
She medaled again later in the competition, finishing in second place in the 1m for her age group, again finishing a spot ahead of Conn.
Henderson said he was most impressed by the young diver’s ability to ignore the scores of her competitors and focus on her own dives.
“When I finish my dive, I usually ignore whatever else is going on. I don’t think about the scores by putting headphones in or something like that so I can’t hear the other scores,” Miller added about why she thinks she was successful at the Pan American Junior Diving Championships.
Nepean Ottawa Diving Club product Henry McKay also captured a pair of medals at the event. It was his fourth time competing at the Pan Am Junior Championships. In the 3m synchro event, McKay took gold with his partner Victor Povzner (Markham). The 17-year-old also won bronze in the platform event of the competition’s oldest age group. He’s reached the podium each time he’s participated. McKay now trains at the Toronto Diving Academy.
2016 Ottawa Sports Awards diver of the year Kathryn Grant from the Ottawa National Diving Club also competed at the championships. The 13-year-old placed 7th in the 3m finals.