Bendigo divers dominate country titles

Bendigo YMCA Divers scooped the pool by winning an astonishing 19 medals – including 16 gold – from 19 events at the Victorian Country Championships and Mildura Memorial RipNTear.

The dominant performance saw Bendigo’s five divers sweep the perpetual trophies – as overall club champions, as well as men’s and women’s champions.

With the YMCA Divers ranked first for Australian country clubs, coach Heather Tyter had high expectations of 11 gold medals before the competition.

But the team of Abby Rowley, Xavier Bartolo, Syd Campbell, Alex Whitelock and Anna Purtill performed beyond expectations.

“It is great to see this event back in full force with Bendigo renewing their previous history of success, having won all three trophies from years 1985 to 1992 after which the club went into recess for 10 years,” Tyter said.

“Looking at the shields I was reminded of some of our previous stars, like Chantelle Newbery, Bianca Lynch, Sarah Lewis, Elissa Caldwell, Sonja and Rachel Baker – and we are back.”

Abby Rowley’s power and precision in the 12-to-13-year-old age group led to six gold medals for the 11-year-old, who was also named the best performed female diver at the meet.

Rowley blitzed the qualification marks for nationals, while 10-year-old Xavier Bartolo also qualified on all the boards.

Bartolo was the best-performed boy at the meet with five gold and one silver medal from his six events.

Although Syd Campbell was already qualified for nationals, the 71-year-old reached the marks once more as he won his three 50-and-over master events.

Campbell took gold in the one-metre, three-metre and platform with his excellent dives.

Alex Whitelock, 17, was the gold medallist in the open women’s platform, where she stunned the crowds with a magnificent armstand dive, and she was runner-up in the one-metre.

Amongst all the superb dives from her team-mates, Anna Purtill was a standout at her first major event.

The 14-year-old won country championship gold and bronze in the RipNTear, only 0.2 of a point from silver and ahead of the current South Australian champion in her age group.

The divers qualified for the Australian Age Championships will be training hard in the coming months ahead of the Perth event in April.

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