Glasgow may have been too soon for Kyle Kothari but the 16-year-old diver says his recent European title gives him the belief that by the time the Commonwealth Games reaches the Gold Coast of Australia in 2018 he will be ready to follow the likes of Tom Daley and Leon Taylor into the English diving team.
“With my current progress I think the next Commonwealth Games is definitely a strong possibility and I hope I get the chance next time around,” said the former gymnast from Amersham who also won a silver medal at the British Gas Diving Championships this year.
“I know on my day I can be the best in Europe,” he adds, “and that’s quite a surreal feeling as I have only been diving a short time.”
It all started just over three years ago when Kyle went along to a talent day at Crystal Palace diving club. He showed early potential but wasn’t quite ready to leave gymnastics behind so pursued both sports for a few years until two medals at the 2013 British Gas Elite Junior Diving Championships convinced him it was time to specialise.
Little more than a year later, as a member of the British team at the Junior European Diving Championships in Bergamo, Italy, he found himself up against the more experienced Nikita Shleikher from Russia in the 10m platform final. On his last dive, Kyle won it by ten points.
"It was actually very close," he says. "My closest rival [Shleikher] only needed a good but not great dive. So watching him after I had just dived was quite intense." But Shleikher’s score of 61.20 wasn’t enough to take the gold, leaving Great Britain on top of the podium for the second time in the championships.
“I think I performed well but not at my very best,” admits Kyle, “as I was 18 points off my PB which I hope to beat soon."
That personal best came back in June at the national championships where Kyle’s final tally of 544.70 earned him a place not only at the European championships in Italy but also the world championships in Penza, Russia, which are coming up in September. Penza will be another step up for Kyle but whatever the result, in this breakthrough year it will be more invaluable experience for the young diver.
“This year has been the most successful of my diving career and I feel as if my dream of competing at the highest level is becoming more of a reality,” he says.
Helping him to achieve that dream has been the goal of SSE’s Next Generation programme which is run in partnership with SportsAid. The programme offers him financial support and extra training at workshops, which Kyle says has given his whole family a boost.
"The funding has helped my parents support me even more through travel and being able to come and watch my competitions,” he says, adding that, “SSE's recognition has given me self-belief. The workshop in Loughborough was great and I learnt a lot.”
As one of the sponsors of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, SSE set up the Next Generation programme to help young athletes like Kyle take full advantage of the Games’ legacy in preparation for the next event in 2018. For now though, Kyle says "all eyes will be on Tom Daley", but there more than a suggestion that before long, they will be on him too.
To help a rising star like Kyle to achieve his or her ambitions, call SportsAid on 020 7273 1975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Kyle’s career and achievements, see his athlete profile.