By Tara Murray
Age is not a barrier for young Keilor diving star Jonah Mercieca.
Having taken to diving like a fish to water about five years ago, Mercieca has continued to excel in the sport and match it with the best in his age group.
Success at both state and national level has seen selectors stand up and take notice.
The 12-year-old received a scholarship for the Victorian Institute of Sport junior diving squad.
He has also been picked in the ‘Dream2428’ national diving squad which consists of athletes who have the potential to have success at either the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.
Mercieca said it was a big shock to be included in both squads and he was proud to achieve it.
At the VIS, he is one day short of being the youngest in the squad and among the youngest divers they’ve ever had.
“The VIS feels quite good and a bit different to how everything else has been,” he said.
“This morning at training Mack Horton [Olympic gold medalist] was training.
“It makes me more motivated and inspired. I’m doing more training. I’m doing eight sessions a week and over the holidays I’m doing 10 sessions a week.”
Mercieca attended a national training camp with the Dream2428 squad late last year in Queensland.
“There were so many other divers and we got to do activities and do some training,” he said. “We were training with different coaches from around Australia.”
The selections come after a big 12 months of diving.
He finished second on the platform at the 2019 Australian Elite Junior Championships in a thrilling final.
He lost by two and half points, despite being a bottom age diver.
He also competed at the Victorian Open diving championships and attempted to be the youngest ever to get a qualifying score for the open age National championships.
He missed out by less than a point.
That has motivated him to try and do even better this time around.
This year he’s hoping to make the Australian nationals, which also doubles as the Olympic qualifiers.
“When I started, I never thought anything like this would happen,” he said.
“I’ve been looking at results and there’s some kids from other countries who are 13 or 14 and going to world cups and smashing adults from a young age.
“Hopefully this year I’ll get to the Olympic trials. It will be a big experience for me and will be fun.”