Diving star Houlden's Commonwealth debut set to cap remarkable rise to the summit

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This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Houlden is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Houlden is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success

When Jordan Houlden was first introduced to diving at a taster camp in Sheffield aged nine, he flat refused – a fear of water and an inability to swim meant he was petrified of jumping in.

Houlden's remarkable 14-year journey from terror of the water to the top has included winning a gold at the FINA Grand Prix in Calgary, where he beat a global field, including team-mate Dan Goodfellow to win the 3m springboard.

The City of Sheffield Diving Club prospect made his European Junior debut in 2014 before becoming the 2015 ASA England Programmes Athlete of the Year for diving.

The photocall and get-together had been organised by The National Lottery as part of the build up to what promises to be 11 days of unforgettable sporting action. With anticipation for the Games bubbling away nicely, the athletes from each nation had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the 2022 Games
The photocall and get-together had been organised by The National Lottery as part of the build up to what promises to be 11 days of unforgettable sporting action. With anticipation for the Games bubbling away nicely, the athletes from each nation had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the 2022 Games

But despite his success, the 23-year-old, who will compete for Team England at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, was happy to admit that he wasn't always so comfortable diving into the water.

"I could only just about doggy paddle to stay afloat, so going into the pool, I looked at the water and was like, no, I am not getting in there!" said Houlden, who is one of more than 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.

"I wasn't too great at swimming, I did not really like it, but when I was about nine years old, I got scouted to do a taster.

"An hour was for dry land, and the second hour was the pool, and I was really good in the dry land, but when it came to the pool, I was not a confident swimmer.

"I could only just about doggy paddle to stay afloat, so going into the pool, I looked at the water and was like, no, I am not getting in there!

"So, the first day went by, and I could only just jump in off the poolside - but I would scramble to get back out.

"I said I am not doing this anymore, but 14 years later, I'm getting ready to compete at Birmingham 2022." said Houlden, who was speaking during a four nation photoshoot in Birmingham, which saw athletes from each of the home nations come together for the very first time to celebrate the final countdown to the Games.

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

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Houlden hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Team Wales’ Olivia Breen, Team England’s Jordan Houlden, Northern Ireland’s Caroline O’Hanlon, and Team Scotland’s Lynsey Spiers were in attendance to mark the landmark occasion at the Library of Birmingham
Team Wales’ Olivia Breen, Team England’s Jordan Houlden, Northern Ireland’s Caroline O’Hanlon, and Team Scotland’s Lynsey Spiers were in attendance to mark the landmark occasion at the Library of Birmingham

Houlden placed ninth in the world at his maiden World Aquatics Championships in Budapest after moving impressively through the preliminary and semi-final stages recently.

And after a meteoric rise to the Commonwealth Games stage, the Sheffield-born star was keen to emphasise the role The National Lottery have played in helping him fulfil his potential.

He added: "It is very good to know that the National Lottery are there to help athletes.

"The support has helped me in a lot of ways, paying for food and paying for travel.

"Without the support from The National Lottery, I probably would have had to have got a job, and I would not have been able to devote so much time to diving as I could have, so it has been a huge help to me.

"It just means I can get more training days, and those couple of extra hours a day really does make a difference.

"Knowing The National Lottery is there for athletes is so great to know and great to see."

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.

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