Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix was a double Commonwealth and double European diving champion before even turning 18 – and she has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Despite having to juggle her education with being an elite athlete, 2022 marked a breakthrough year as she stole the show in Birmingham in front of a home crowd at the Commonwealths before backing it up in Rome a fortnight later.
Her efforts have been recognised as she was crowned National Lottery Awards 2022 Athlete of the Year after a public vote in which more than 11,000 people voted, beating the likes of runner Eilish McColgan and cyclist Laura Kenny.
While initially, Spendolini-Sirieix was recognised as much for her famous father – TV star Fred Sirieix from Channel 4 show First Dates – she has very much stepped out of his shadow.
And next on the agenda is a daring new dive which she hopes will allow her to take another step in her diving development.
“I’m leading up to a new dive so I want to see how that goes,” said Spendolini-Sirieix, who turned 18 last month.
“I’m very, very excited. I’ve not done a new dive in a very long time.
“It’s a back 3 ½. We’re just trialling it out at the moment to see if it works. If it works, then I’ll add it to the list, if it doesn’t, I’m not going to pressure myself to do it. But It’s just about taking baby steps and building up confidence, building up the lead-up and slowly going up to ten metres. It’s quite a difficult skill but I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Spendolini-Sirieix was just 16 when she qualified for the Olympic final in the 10m platform last summer, and her dramatic rise continued this year with Commonwealth and European gold medals in that event, along with a further five major medals this summer including two more golds.
It might seem that it has all been smooth sailing, but Spendolini-Sirieix was quick to point out that she has not always found it easy to compete on the global stage at such a young age.
She added: “Not every day will be a perfect day, everyone has their ups and downs but I want to share my story and say that it’s ok to not be ok all the time. It’s ok to speak about your problems and be open about how you are really feeling.
“I’m very proud of how far I’ve come this year and very happy that I didn’t give up. It’s mind blowing. It feels good to know that my hard work is being recognised and it’s not going undetected.
“In competition it’s very stressful and I have to juggle a lot of things. I have to juggle school and exams and training and all of this. At times, it becomes very overwhelming and it’s very hard.
“I’m not perfect, and I will never be perfect but I do try very hard.”
No-one does more to support our athletes than National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, including grassroots and elite sport. For information on The National Lottery Awards, visit lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and follow on Twitter @LottoGoodCauses #NLAwards.