Oliver Dingley on sporting memories and morning routines

Team Ireland athlete Ollie Dingley

Ollie Dingley is a four time British champion in the 1-Metre Springboard event and a Commonwealth bronze medallist in the 3-Metre Springboard. This year he became the first Irish diver to qualify for the Olympics since 1948.

Ollie Dingley may have grown up in England - but when it comes to sport, he’s always been Irish at heart. The Olympic hopeful recalls the 2002 World Cup as one of his earliest sporting memories, saying, “Everyone at school was supporting England. I remember sitting in the school dining hall and they had a big screen at the front and I was the only Irish fan there. But I was really proud of having Irish roots."

"I remember sitting in the school dining hall and they had a big screen at the front and I was the only Irish fan there. But I was really proud of having Irish roots."

The diver remains a huge fan of our current assistant manager, explaining: “The saddest moment was when Roy Keane got sent home. Actually, I’m not sure if he got sent home or decided to go home! He adds: “Roy was my sporting hero as a child. I just love his attitude to things, even now listening to him speak.”

He may not be quite as fearsome as the ex-Ireland captain, but Dingley has strived to imitate his attitude to sport. He says: “I think that’s a great way to succeed in sport because really the only person who can make you better is yourself.” He laughs: “I’m not a Manchester Utd fan. Definitely not! I’m a Leeds Utd fan, but I don’t ever recall him scoring against us, luckily.”

"It was my only chance to qualify, but those were the cards I was dealt. And that’s what I had to put up with but I turned it into my advantage and qualified for the Olympic Games."

The Team Ireland member has suffered his own setbacks on the road to Rio, but feels the adversity he faced only made him stronger. He says: “I had an ankle injury going into the qualifiers. It was still quite taped up at the time and I really felt a lot was against me.” But with Olympic qualification at stake, Dingley refused to let the injury derail his dream. He explains: “It was my only chance to qualify, but those were the cards I was dealt. And that’s what I had to put up with but I turned it into my advantage and qualified for the Olympic Games.”

Team Ireland athlete Ollie Dingley

And it was the same can-do attitude he admires in Keane that allowed him to overcome his own obstacles. He says: “I really was pushing it at every training session, pushing through the pain barrier. In that competition, it was a make it or break it. And the only way you can get through it is by doing it.”

Dingley’s success is not accident. In fact, he adheres to a strict training regime which means training from early morning to late evening. He explains: I actually live on the National Sports Campus, so where I live and where I train are only a few minutes apart. I get up, have breakfast, and I just peg it over to training. I then do diving for two, two and a half hours. On certain days of the week I then go to weights or physio for an hour and a half.” The days are long, but Dingley isn’t complaining. He says: “I don’t finish til about eight o’clock in the evening and it starts at eight o’clock in the morning. It can be quite tiring but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

"I really was pushing it at every training session, pushing through the pain barrier. In that competition, it was a make it or break it. And the only way you can get through it is by doing it."

Dingley has overcome a lot to get where he is today, including childhood struggles with dyslexia. But he feels it’s all made him a stronger person. He explains: “I think a lot of people doubt themselves. But I think everybody’s pretty amazing, and everyone is really good enough to achieve what they want to achieve.”

It’s been a rapid rise to the top for the young athlete but he’s taking it in his stride. He says: “I feel like I’m growing up fast. I’m 23 now and I hopefully have two more Olympic Games in me. But a diving career isn’t the longest of careers, so I want to make the most of it.”

For now, Ollie Dingley is approaching the biggest moment of his career with a grin, saying: “That’s how I approach each day, just having a big smile on my face and making the most of it.”

Let’s hope that smile is even wider when he competes in Rio this August.

In the run-up to the Olympics, we’ll be sharing inspiring advice and stories from the members of Team Ireland. Follow the stories at #ThePowerWithin.