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Lizzie Cui is ready to make a splash

11 December 2019

Lizzie Cui
Kiwi F-Teamer Lizzie Cui wears the Cut Away One Piece in Club Tropo

Olympian Lizzie Cui has well and truly settled into life in the US having spent the past four years training and studying at Louisiana State University. Having lived away from home for so long, she has jumped at the chance to make the big trip home to New Zealand this week so that she can compete in the Oceania Diving Championships, which take place from 14th - 15th in Auckland, NZ. The competition is an Olympic qualifier for Cui who has her eyes set firmly on a place on the New Zealand Diving team for Tokyo 2020. We sat down with Lizzie to discuss her 2016 Olympic experience and her transition to life in the USA.

Was it a difficult decision to move to the USA to continue your training?

It really wasn't a hard decision to make because if I wanted to achieve my Olympic dream this was the only way I could do it. The US has tremendous opportunities for athletes and it meant I could continue training and get an education for free. Back then diving in New Zealand was very small and my club was in between coaches. A few months after moving, I qualified for the Olympics and it was then that I knew moving to the USA was the best decision I ever made.

How did training with the Louisiana State University (LSU) team compare to training with other clubs?

LSU is a family and my coach Doug Shaffer has been nothing but supportive since I started in January 2016. My team is extremely talented and we motivate each other every day to get better. Through the University I've had the opportunity to compete at competitions with some of the best divers in America which has been so beneficial to my diving career thus far.

Lizzie Cui
Lizzie became the first athlete to represent New Zealand in diving at the Olympics since 1992

Whilst training in the US you have represented New Zealand at many international events. Is it hard not training with the rest of Team NZ regularly?

Yes and no. My main training partner moved to the States a year before I did so it was an easy transition for me. With the results my team and I have obtained in the past years, diving is finally growing in New Zealand in a positive way which makes me very happy.

In 2016 you became the first athlete to represent New Zealand in diving at the Olympics since 1992, what did that achievement mean to you?

To have an Olympic dream come true is something that has brought me tremendous pride and joy. All the hard work, sacrifice and dedication was worth it. I felt so much gratitude for my parents and coaches who believed in me and supported me. It's always been about the journey for me so making that goal was a fantastic bonus. I'm just a small girl from a small country that never gave up on her goals and if I can do it than I truly believe that anyone can.

How did competing at the Olympics compare to other international events you have competed in?

It's the pinnacle of sporting achievement. It's like living in a dream. I was surrounded by the very best athletes in the world and I was part of them. I was competing against the people I looked up to in my journey at the biggest competition in the world. I don't think I stopped smiling once for the entire duration of the games.

Australian F-Teamers Sophie Johnson and Nikita Hains will also be competing at Oceania Diving Championships this weekend at West Wave Pool & Leisure Centre. Click here for event details.

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