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Unable to use the pool during lockdown, a group of Masters divers in Auckland have recently been training from a wharf, taking the plunge into the ocean.
It’s been a strange 2021 for the athletes hoping to compete at the 2022 Otago Community Trust New Zealand Masters Games, which will be held in Dunedin from February 5-13.
The Games are the largest multi-sport event held in the country, and annually alternate between Dunedin and Whanganui. Dunedin will host more than 5000 participants in over 60 sporting codes over the nine days of competition.
The age at which an athlete becomes a Master differs depending on the sport, with participants ranging from 18 to 95 and beyond, so there are opportunities for everyone.
Diving hasn’t been available as an event since the 2008 Masters Games, but is making a return for the 2022 Otago Community Trust New Zealand Masters Games.
That’s largely thanks to the efforts of Tatjana Ratsdorf, who only began diving in 2020 at the age of 46. She came to the sport after suffering serious injuries in a horse riding accident.
‘‘I said to my specialist, ‘let me know when I can take up springboard diving’,’’ she says. ‘‘And about 10 months into my injury he said, ‘you can start, but don’t quite go to three metres yet’. I couldn’t back out, so I started diving.’’
While being petrified at first, Ratsdorf has discovered a love for diving and is going from strength to strength. She has become involved with Masters diving in Auckland, and competed at Rookie Masters level in the Diving New Zealand National Championships in July.
When she and other Auckland Masters divers realised that the sport wasn’t offered at the Otago Community Trust New Zealand Masters Games, they made a proposal to the organisers and Diving New Zealand.
‘‘Diving New Zealand, our national sporting association, Auckland Diving, and Diving Otakou, the Dunedin based club, were incredibly supportive of the proposal,’’ Ratsdorf says. ‘‘I’ve been coordinating the project in collaboration with them. Hopefully we can get it up and running and have some fun.’’
At this stage there are many unknowns around that, thanks to the pandemic. But while the Auckland Diving community - including those hoping to compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games - haven’t had access to proper facilities for months, they have been cleverly improvising.
As soon as Covid alert levels permitted, the group of Masters divers began training from a wharf on Auckland’s East Coast Bays. The performance squad training for the Commonwealth Games and other Auckland based divers have since joined training there.
‘‘Our group of Masters have been training one to two times a week at the wharf,’’ Ratsdorf says. ‘‘It’s not ideal, but at least you get into the water and it’s definitely built a sense of community. Now all we need is for the Covid alert level system to permit us to have a competition, and to be able to get back into the pool after nearly four months of no training!’’
❏ Otago Community Trust New Zealand Masters Games: Dunedin, February 5-13, 2022.