A rough dive towards glory

WILL POWER Nammi Divya Theja has shown a lot of grit and determination to  soldier on despite having to negotiate a troublesome shoulder.

The Karnataka diver, however, has shown a lot of resolve to tide over a rough patch of recurring injuries, underlining her passion and determination to make it big in diving.

Divya, who has been suffering from a shoulder injury for the past two years, has carried on gamely to stay in the sport despite attracting adversity so early in her career. “It was disappointing to get injured when I was doing well, and at a young age too. However, I would love to keep diving competitively and win as many medals I can. So I decided to fight it out,” said Divya, the National Junior highboard and springboard diving champions.

“In diving, points are given according to the difficulty of the dive. The greater the degree of difficulty, the more points you get. Likewise, in life too, we have ups and downs,” pointed out Divya, who was first injured during the Senior Nationals aquatic championships in Hyderabad in 2008.

Divya says she feels great now after surgery to correct an Anterior Labral Tear in her right shoulder, and is keen to begin her routine practice before giving it her all to defend her Junior title in July. “I am grateful to my parents and Dr Mahesh Reddy for their immense support to help me get through the difficult period. In two weeks’ time, I can begin my practice and hopefully retain my junior National title in July,” said Divya.

It was easy for Divya to take up competitive sports as her father and coach Krishna Murthy was a former State diving champion and also competed for Services during his tenure as Subedar with the Madras Engineering Group. Murthy is an NIS-certified aquatics coach (swimming, diving and water polo) at the Jain International Residential School.

Born in Visakhapatnam, Divya shifted base to Bangalore in 1995 when her father joined MEG here. Her love for water took her to the pool first, and then to the diving board. Things began to happen for the 17-year-old after she enrolled for swimming at the Dazzle Club in Ulsoor in 2004 as advised by a doctor to cure a breathing-related illness. “I joined the club as a swimmer but my heart was in diving,” the 12th standard student of JIRS said.

Soon, Divya took up diving and two years later, she won her maiden medal at the State Aquatic Championship in Bangalore in 2006, completing a treble with victory in the 1M springboard, 3M springboard and highboard events. The three titles and the best diver award (Group III category) spurred Divya to achieve bigger feats in the coming years. “Those medals gave me immense self-belief and convinced me to continue with the sport,” revealed Divya.

Months later, she followed up with a highboard gold and two bronze medals in the springboard events at the Junior Nationals held in Bangalore. Divya then went undefeated at the State Junior meets from 2007-10 in different age groups. Her most memorable moment to date came when she took home her maiden National gold — three titles and the best diver award (Group II) — at the Kolkata Junior Nationals in 2008. The same year, she won the 3M springboard title at the State meet, her first senior medal.

Soon after, the shoulder injury began to trouble her as she failed to grab any medal at the Hyderabad Senior Nationals. “The injury scare began at Hyderabad and I went home without a medal,” Divya recalled. A year later, in the Junior National meet in Goa, she came back strongly to grab gold in the 1M springboard and silver medals in the 3M springboard and highboard events.

In 2010, in front her home crowd, Divya, whose favourite routine is the inner one-and-half dive from the 3M springboard, won a memorable double in springboard events before the troublesome injury came to haunt her once more, forcing her to go under the knife.

Divya, who idolises Sachin Tendulkar for his patience and longevity, is aiming to make her mark at the international level. “My aim is to perform well abroad in diving and my dream is to become a physician,” said Divya.

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