Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carlson vying for Youth Olympics

Molly Carlson viewed it as a glorified training session.
The powers that be at Diving Canada had other ideas—and their intuition proved correct.

The 15-year-old Fort Frances native, who now calls Thunder Bay home, placed second in the women’s Group ‘A’ (age 16-18) 3m springboard finals at the 2013 CAMO Invitational diving meet Dec. 5-8 in Montreal.
Carlson posted a score of 419.35 to finish behind Louisa Stawczynski of Germany (426.95).
But as the top Canadian in the event, the talented tumbler earned herself a most unexpected berth at the Youth Junior Olympics diving trials in Guadalajara, Mexico from Feb. 28-March 2.
If she meets the scoring standard, and finishes ninth or higher, there is an excellent chance Carlson will find herself on a plane bound for Nanjing, China for the second Youth Olympic Games from Aug. 16-28.
“It was my first meet at this age level and when it was over, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, how is this possible?’” Carlson admitted from her training headquarters in British Columbia.
“Of course, I wanted to make it to the trials,” she noted. “But I had no clue it was going to happen.”
Diving Canada officials had approached Carlson before the Montreal meet and recommended she move up from the women’s Group ‘B’ (age 14-15) to test herself against more experienced competition.
The energetic redhead went along with the plan—and now is one meet away from giving Fort Frances its first native-born Youth Olympian.
Carlson gave plenty of credit to her recently-hired coach, former Geraldton resident Jason Naper, who signed on with Carlson not much before guiding her to victory in the girls’ age 14-15 3m springboard event at the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) Junior Pan American Diving Championships in Tucson, Ariz. in late September.
“Jason has been working with me to get stronger with my board work so I can go higher,” Carlson said.
“The higher you are, the prettier you are to the judges and the better scores you’ll get.”
But it will be a formidable challenge to both meet the required standard and place in the top nine against what will be an even tougher field than she faced in Montreal.
Adding to the intrigue for Carlson will be the fact her close friend and former training camp roommate, Frederique Lalonde of Montreal, may be the one who prevents Carlson from punching her ticket to China.
Lalonde, who finished third to Carlson in the 3m event, won the 10m tower category at the CAMO meet.
As such, she also will be at the trials in Mexico and Diving Canada already has mandated that only one of the pair can advance to the Youth Olympics.
If she scores better than Carlson in Guadalajara, even if Carlson does what she needs to do to qualify, it will be Lalonde flying to China.
“We’ve both accepted that it’s all part of being in competition,” said Carlson, who didn’t foresee the high stakes denting their friendship.
“[Lalonde] works really hard and this is her last year in that [16-18] age group,” Carlson noted.
“She deserves to go just as much as I do.”
That said, Carlson won’t be prone to any bursts of generosity when it’s go-time in Mexico.
“She’s going to have to take [the Youth Olympics berth] from me . . . I’m not going to give it to her,” Carlson vowed.

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