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As A Formerly Decent Middle School Athlete, I Can Relate To This 13-Year-Old Who Won The European Diving Championships

Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty)

This week in Ukrainian diving news: 13-year-old diving prodigy Oleksii Sereda has captured gold in the 10-meter European Diving Championships in Kiev, a historic feat I would definitely be significantly more impressed with if I too had not enjoyed athletic success as a 13-year-old. Sereda finished fourth at the world championships in July, which is the same place that the Sutter Miners Eighth Grade boys basketball team finished at the 2006 NorCal Middle School Basketball Championships. So like I said, I know what Sereda is going through.

The previous record for youngest European champion was held by British diver Tom Daley, who was three months older than Sereda is now. I can also relate to Daley, since our coach regularly recruited three talented seventh graders to join the eighth-grade team, and Jacob Stevens comfortably beat me out for playing time. “I was a little nervous, but I’m happy that I could win,” Sereda said. I recall saying something similar when we crushed those clowns over at Sam Brannan Middle School for Sacramento city championship honors.

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“His subscribers on Instagram and other social media is growing like crazy. It’s very important how he and his parents behave now,” Ukrainian Diving Federation sports manager Yaro Tokmachov said, which is reminiscent of how my parents did not want me to have a MySpace profile when I was 13.

Sereda won the competition with a 488.85; the Miners won the 2005 C.A. Jacobs tournament with a 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter, a quarter in which I set several bone crushing screens. He will turn 14 in time to meet the minimum age requirements for Olympic eligibility. I too competed at the next level, fouling out of my final high school basketball game with 10 or so rebounds and zero points.

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