Bent-Ashmeil says she feels like part of the team ahead of Commonwealth Games

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Britain's Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Amy Rollinson in action during the women's 3m synchronized preliminary at the FINA World Championships
Britain's Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Amy Rollinson in action during the women's 3m synchronized preliminary at the FINA World Championships

Having been selected for her first Commonwealth Games, diver Desharne Bent-Ashmeil is really starting to feel part of the team.

The 17-year-old from Croydon swapped gymnastics for diving at an early age but admitted to nerves when first stepping foot in the London Aquatics Centre.

At the home of diving at London 2012, Bent-Ashmeil trains alongside Olympic gold medallists Tom Daley and Matty Lee, as well as inspiration Grace Reid.

“At first, when I came here, I was really overwhelmed. There were so many big names and I didn't feel at that level, so it has been really good and I have got to make many friends out of them.

“They have given me lots of advice that has been helping me. They have taken me in.

“I’ve had a good support system around me to help me and answer any questions and the divers have helped me as well.”

The teenager is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.

She was not even born the last time England hosted the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

And while the home Olympics 10 years ago brings back more nostalgia, the young diver is focussing on making Commonwealth Games memories of her own at Birmingham 2022.

She added: “I don’t really have that many memories of the Commonwealth Games, the last one was really good but it wasn’t in this country so I think this one is going to be even better, because England will always cheer the loudest.

“I wasn’t even diving in 2012, I started in November 2015, but I have memories of diving, it looked fascinating because it is quite an acquired skill.

“You have to look nice in the air, but you also have to have a really clean entry to get the top marks, so if you don’t have one of the two you will drop marks, I think that is the really exciting thing about diving.

“I’m both excited and nervous but I am more taking it as a learning experience as this will be my second senior competition.

“I’m really excited to be there, because it is a home crowd, it will be really welcoming.”

She made a splash earlier this year by winning the women’s 3m synchro title at the British Championships alongside partner Amy Rollinson.

The duo did the double after claiming the junior title only months earlier, as they beat out Reid and Scarlett Mew-Jensen, who earned bronze.

Despite garnering the attention of the diving world, acclaim only set to grow this summer in Birmingham, Bent-Ashmeil insists she is just like every other 17-year-old.

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, and having secured her place on the squad, Bent-Ashmeil is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

And, of course, it was her best friend who was the first to learn the big news.

She said: “I told my best friend Liv that I had been selected, I tell her everything.

“People at my school think it is really cool what I am doing, but it is just diving at the end of the day. It is another level of diving for me, I just find it quite normal, just everyday life.”

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