Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix on retiring and beating Chinese at Olympics

Spendolini Sirieix on her way to 10m platform bronze in Doha (Picture: Rex)

I couldn’t have dreamt I would come away from the world championships with three medals – one of them gold – but I’m so thankful I was able to begin Olympic year that way.

I tried not to think too much about results at this month’s championships in Doha but our British team got off to a flying start on day one by winning the first gold medal available in the team competition alongside Tom Daley, Dan Goodfellow and Scarlett Mew Jensen. I think we are the best team out there currently.

To follow that with 10metre platform individual bronze and then cap off my championships with 10m synchro bronze with Lois Toulson was such a fantastic experience and hopefully sets me and the team up nicely for the year ahead.

It also marked a record medal haul for us as a team, with seven, and we secured the final three Olympic quota spots for Paris this summer.

No one is getting carried away after the team’s performance in Qatar but it is more experience under my belt and I don’t think you can ever have too much of that.

Someone who has bundles of experience is Tom, my mixed synchro partner, who has returned to the team. He is 30 this year and is so inspirational. It’s nice to have him back.

His work ethic is like no one else and just being around him makes you want to work harder, but I doubt I will do what he has done and carry on diving at that stage of my life.

Spendolini Sirieix and Toulson added to Britain's medal haul at the world championships

Spendolini-Sirieix and Toulson added to Britain’s medal haul at the world championships (Picture: Rex)

Tom has started a family and has returned with the Paris Games in mind. For me, I have a love-hate relationship with the sport and when you have that, you tend to fantasise about when it will be over one day! That’s just the reality of elite-level sport from an athlete’s point of view.

I want to have a family too one day and be as present as possible, and I am looking forward to the day I retire. It’s different as a woman and I want to settle down in the future. I have also given so much 
to diving.

You can’t exactly dive when pregnant, of course, although there were women in the field in Doha who have had kids and come back and that is so inspiring. I don’t see that being what I’m going to do, though. I’ve had my retirement plan in the back of my mind since I was 13 but we’re far away from that, I’m happy to say.

For now I want to make history and for me that means beating the Chinese, who it’s difficult not to see as perfection in my sport. To defeat them will be a difficult journey but not impossible.

They train so much – in fact, that is all they do: train, train, train and train. They are also younger and a lot smaller than me. I’ve been told by some people that having long legs is my superpower.

Daley, Mew Jensen, Spendolini Sirieix and Goodfellow celebrate gold

Daley, Mew Jensen, Spendolini Sirieix and Goodfellow celebrate gold (Picture: Rex)

Before, it was an insecurity of mine but I have come to love and embrace my body shape. I believe I can close that gap to the guys who beat me in Qatar – Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi, who won gold and silver respectively in the individual and then teamed up to claim gold 
in the synchro, with Mi Rae Kim 
and Jin Mi Jo, of North Korea, taking the silver medal.

The pool water in Qatar was freezing, meaning my muscles were cramping and spasming. I actually used the Chinese team’s hot tub during the competition and that was nice of them as they didn’t have to say yes to that. It was a lovely gesture from them.

I know what my task is over the next five months and my goal is to cut that gap to the Chinese divers. But it’s been a great start to the year and I look forward to what lies ahead.

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