Wall of Fame honours Bendigo’s pool of elite divers

DIVING champions from the 1930s up until 2008 have been honoured in the Bendigo Regional YMCA’s Wall of Fame at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre.The Wall of Fame was opened at last Saturday’s country clinic and come and try diving at the Barnard Street pool.Australia’s first Olympic gold medallist in diving, Chantelle Newbery, was at the unveiling.The 10m platform champion at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Newbery was a gold medallist at the 1998 and 2006 Commonwealth Games.A remarkable career for the star who lived in Castlemaine for several years included silver and bronze medals at world titles, World Cup meets, and a huge tally of national and state titles.In the late 1920s and through the 30s, Ron Masters was excelling off the springboard and highboard.Masters competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and ruled the springboard to win gold at the 1938 Empire Games, now known as Commonwealth Games. He was the Victorian champion at springboard and highboard in 1932, ‘33, ‘34 and ‘35.Another competitor who has mastered the boards at home and abroad is Pearl Heenan.Pearl dived for gold many times at World Masters Games and at Australian Masters championships. It was Pearl’s feats off the board when well into her 70s that inspired many younger competitors.Also inducted to the Wall of Fame was Olivia Seritelli, the Bendigo Sportsmen’s Association’s Junior Sports Star of the Year in 1992.Oliva was Diving Australia’s outstanding junior diver award winner in 1992 and ‘94, Leg 5 and competed at the 1993 world junior titles in London.She also won 15 national and state age titles.Elissa Caldwell competed at the 1991 world junior championships in Orebro and at the 1989 international junior titles in Barcelona.A great run included eight national and state age championship wins, and four Victorian Country diving championship victories.Bree Mellberg represented Australia at the world junior elite titles in Aachen, Germany, last September and is already working toward more goals in 2009 and beyond.The youngest member in the Wall of Fame unveiled on Saturday, Bree was a gold medallist in the 3m syncho final, and silver medallist on platform at the 2008 Australian National Junior elite titles.Bree was also presented with the Ron Masters Best Diver award by Ron’s nephew, also Ron Masters, at Saturday’s presentation.Chantelle Newbery presented the most improved diver for 2008 award to Spencer Smagas.One of the youngest members in the Bendigo YM Divers squad, Spencer went on a medal-winning spree at the Pacific School Games.

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