Maisie Bond has always been a natural star on the diving boards

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Diving protege Maisie Bond has enjoyed a rapid rise up the ranks but the Sheffield star taking it all in her stride.
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Diving protege Maisie Bond has enjoyed a rapid rise up the ranks but the Sheffield star taking it all in her stride.

The 15-year-old tumbled her way to bronze at the European Junior Diving Championships in 2021 and is now partnering Olympian Lois Toulson in her first attempt at synchro.

Alongside the medals and the success, the young diver says has found a new sense of maturity and is being schooled for a long career at the top.

"I think something that's helped me is starting so young. I've just learnt how to do it and grown up with it,” said Bond, who has been selected to be part of the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid.

"And with my older siblings doing it, I was always practising at home before I was allowed to get into the pool and I think that helped me.

"As I grew, I learnt how to deal with things younger than most people would. Most people would be 14 or 15 when they learn how to deal with injuries but I was probably eight or nine.

"I always dreamed of being at this level and even further and part of me just wants to make my younger self proud and so that my younger self would be in awe of me now."

The Team England Futures programme will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

The youngest of four siblings, Bond used to watch her older sisters dive from the stands before getting the chance to jump into the sport herself.

Bond was deemed a natural from the start by her coach Tom Owens and has now been fast-tracked into Toulson's 10m synchro partner and will be one of the stand-out stars for July's European Junior Diving Championships.

She said: "It was quite a proud moment for me because I got fast-tracked into that spot and normally there would be a competition to see who's best with her but I was given it.

"It's just helped me learn so much more about diving because obviously she's more experienced.

"Seeing all the older divers doing so well at these competitions - I'm still really proud of how I do and I feel like I do well for my age - but seeing them do really well is inspiring.

"Because I want to be that person in the next few years. I want to be doing all of that.

"And in lockdown when we trained with all of Leeds and all the Olympians it was quite inspiring because the take diving differently.

"It makes you see how being an Olympian is and makes me excited for the future."

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.

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