THUNDER BAY -- Molly Carlson is peaking at precisely the right time.
The 15-year-old captured a pair of gold medals and added a bronze at last weekend’s junior national diving championship in Victoria, a boost of confidence ahead of a busy September that includes representing Canada at the Youth Olympics in China and the junior worlds in Russia.
“I wasn’t expecting to be able to win (in Victoria) and doing as well as I did,” Carlson said Wednesday at a Thunder Bay Diving Club open house at the Canada Games Complex.
“Going into China, having this in the back of my career, is really exciting, especially since I’ve never been to Asia before, so now I know I am the best in my country and will represent them well.”
Carlson has been tracking toward the world stage for more than seven years.
Her ultimate goal is earning a spot on Canada’s Olympic diving team, possibly as early as the 2020 Games.
The youngster, who plans to qualify for the trials for the 2016 Games, said her upcoming trip to China will provide plenty of experience to help her reach her goal – and succeed once she gets there.
“The Youth Olympics is a crazy experience,” she said. “It’s a replica of the real Olympics, with just younger athletes, so it really helps us know what the real Olympics are like.
“The word Olympics just gets me so excited. It’s Youth Olympics, it’s in China, it’s going to be a crazy event.”
Everything is falling into place nicely as she continues her journey toward the global stage.
Competing against 16- to 18-year olds in Victoria, she topped the 500-point mark in the three-metre competition, easily outdistancing Quebec’s Samantha Maiorino, who settled for silver.
She knows she’s getting closer and closer to her dream, and is trying her best not to let the pressure get to her.
Carlson admitted she’s still got plenty to learn and improvements to make before she’s ready to seriously start thinking about the Olympics.
She’s been working with new coach Jason Napper this season, and says she’s already noticed improvements in her dives.
“I’ve travelled the world with him and it’s really amazing,” Carlson said. “He’s taught me different techniques and it’s working really well. I still need to work more on my degree of difficulty, getting some harder dives. But for his first year and my first year with him, we’ve done really well.”
This is how good Carlson can be. In Victoria, she slipped on her first platform dive. For most divers, that would be the end of the competition. But she rebounded with a pair of stellar attempts and wound up finishing in the bronze-medal position.
That shows she’s ready to take on the world, Napper said.
“I think she’s poised. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for her. It’s her first of three years in this 16- to 18-year old age group. And I think she’s made a clear impact nationally now. This is kind of yet another stepping stone in her career and I think she’s going to do a great job there.”
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