Celina Toth stuck with diving and now the 29-year old from St. Thomas,
heads to the Tokyo Summer Games for women's 10-metre platform
July 14, 2021
By Rob J. Ross
Celina Toth's Olympic dream has become reality.
The 29-year old from St. Thomas now living in Victoria B.C. is heading to the Tokyo Summer Games for the women's 10-metre platform diving competition.
Toth qualified for the Games winning her event during the Canadian Diving Olympic Trials, at the Pan Am Sports Centre, in Toronto, June 29-July 1.
"I don't think it's settled in yet," said Toth, who after a brief visit back home in Victoria, returned to Toronto last week, in preparation for the Games and to receive her Team Canada wear. "We came here and I didn't sleep well all that week. It all happened so fast. I slept maybe four hours the night before (Trials). Then it happened. It's just a whole whirlwind."
The Canadian Olympic diving team heads to Toyko July 17.
"The fact that I'm actually on the team and the fact that we're actually going next week is really a dream come true," said Toth. "I still don't really have words. I've been grateful that I never gave up because it was too hard."
Toth doesn't know what to expect at her first Games with no spectators and many COVID guidelines. But as Toth points out, likely neither does fellow diver, three time Olympian Meaghan Benfeito. The Games will be unusual for all athletes.
"It'll be different but I go to Grand Prixs and they're not necessary big events. Sometimes you go to events and there aren't people there," said Toth. "This year we've had tons of practice with nobody watching."
Toth loves to build off the energy of the crowd and her favourite moment in the sport is hearing the crowd applause a strong dive while she's underwater.
Strong dives is the goal when Toth takes to the board, for the preliminary round, August 4.
"Of course everybody wants to win," said Toth with a laugh. "I want to put 15 dives in to the water. I would love a medal but there steps you have to take to get there. I want to leave this event with a smile on my face knowing that I did everything that I could regardless of the outcome. I want to put down 15 dives and be happy with how we (her and coach McLeod) walk away from the sport."
Platform consists of three rounds, prelims, semifinals and the final. There are five dives each round.
"For each dive I have specific corrections that I do to put each dive down," said Toth. "For the past year we've been focusing on my entries. My tops are never an issue. It's mainly my entries I have to focus on. The entry is the last thing the judges see."
Toth first dove in to the pool at the age of 12 after retiring from gymnastics. In 2008, while a Grade 11 student at Mother Teresa secondary school in London, Toth won the women's 10-metre platform, at the Junior National Diving championships. That same year Toth just missed the finals at the Junior World FINA championships, held in Germany.
That sparked her Olympic dream lasting now over 13 years.
"I always had the dream and the drive for it," said Toth. "But given everything that has happened, I always never stopped working for it, but I don't know if I truly believed that I would make it. Every time I was there, it was my spot, someone else would come in and be really, really, really good and it didn't work out for me. I was still great but it was never enough. It never stopped me because obviously I'm still here but it made it seem more out of reach."
Missing the 2016 Games was tough but didn't dampen her enthusiasm to continue.
"I had a goal. In 2016, I had a good shot, a good chance. So when I didn't make it, I was like ok, I'm definitely ready. I'm going to be ready for 2020. I could see it. I'm going to be there," explained Toth. "I can see myself continuing to improve. There hasn't been a point in my career where I've gotten worse or just plateaued. Every year I've got better. So I never ever thought that I was done."
Having the 2020 Games postponed a year, however did test Toth's resolve.
"Then I thought I was done. There was other things going on in my relationships and training that made it very difficult. I was ready to hang it up but there wasn't anything else really to do. I said I'll take it month by month and see how it goes."
It went well enough that the Olympic rings won't be images in a dream. Toth will actually be standing on the platform as an Olympian.
Toth spent her youth in St. Thomas, first attending Port Stanley elementary school, before switching to Forest Park and then St. Raphael's, for Grade eight. Toth attended Mother Teresa because the high school was close to the Canada Games Aquatic Centre where she trained with the Forest City Diving Club.
Following high school, Toth moved to Victoria for training full-time at Boardworks in Victoria with coach Tommy McLeod and to attend the University of Victoria. In 2019, Toth received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Her parents, Denes and Wendy Toth, along with sister, Miranda, joined Celina in Victoria, two years ago.
Now representing Canada internationally for more than 10 years, attending the Games will most likely become the pinnacle of Toth's career, among several highlights on her diving resume.
Toth has collected four medals at two World University Games and placed ninth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
"My first win in 2008 as a junior. The energy and the people around me at the pool was super cool. That ignited the whole dream. That was a big one," said Toth, of her top memorable moments from the pool.
"My first Grand Prix win in 2019 in Germany. The Germany Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious ones on the circuit. It is always very difficult judging there, so coming out with an actual win internationally was very, very big for me and my coach. We've been riding off of that and improving."
In 2020, Toth had a silver and fourth place at the first two FINA Grand Prix events.
Toth is enthusiastic about sharing accomplishing her Olympic Dream.
"Trials for this event wasn't the best performance but I'm getting to celebrate this massive achievement with so many people. All my old teammates, the ones in B.C. and my original family in Ontario. Being able to celebrate the outcome with them is such as huge thing for me.
"I still have work to do going into the Games. It makes me excited to see what I can do at the Games."
The Olympics, featuring 339 events, are July 23 to August 8. The Games will be televised and streamed on CBC.
Toyko is 13 hours ahead of southern Ontario (8 a.m. here is 11 p.m in Tokyo), meaning there will be many events in the early morning hours.
The women's 10-metre platform prelims
start at 2 a.m. eastern time, August 4. The
semifinals are at 9 p.m. August 4. The final is
August 5, at 2 a.m. eastern time.
Women's 10-metre platform outline
The top 18 divers advance to the semifinals and the top 12 from semis advance to the final.
There are five dives per round. Each dive must be from a different one of the six groups - forward, back, reverse, inward, twisting, armstand. Each dive is assigned a degree of difficulty based on somersaults, position, twists, approach and entry.
Seven judges score the dive, between zero and 10, with 0.5 increments. The top two and bottom two scores are discarded. The remaining three scores are added together and multiplied by the degree of difficulty, for a dive score. The five dive scores are totaled for a round score.
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