He was just nine years old when Team England Athlete Ambassador Freddie Woodward met Commonwealth and Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor in 2002.
As the Olympian bent down to hang his silver medal from Athens around the young athlete’s neck, it was then he realised that anything was possible.
“It was a very inspirational moment for me.” Freddie told BBC Radio Sheffield last week. I’m a young child, just starting in the sport, but with an elite performance mindset.
“I was talent-spotted, it was never recreational. I started when I was seven and from when I was nine years old I was already doing four days a week. Then by secondary school, at 11 or 12, I was doing five or six sessions a week.”
A strong start for the determined young diver, Freddie nurtured his elite ambitions throughout his school life into later years, making good use of the top diving facilities at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield’s busy city centre.
The young Team England Ambassador’s career started when the talent identification programme came to his diving club at Dobcroft Junior School.
“Diving found me,” he said. “We have the wonderful venue of Ponds Forge so we can have a strong diving club.
Team GB success in the Rio Olympics is in part thanks to programmes like these. I was seven years old and they tested perhaps 2,000 kids from around the city, eventually selecting a squad of about 15.
“I’d done a bit of trampolining but that was recreational on a Sunday morning. I thought about gymnastics, as that’s a more typical route if you’re interested in more acrobatic type things, but then diving came along, and right from the get-go I decided, right, this is what I’m going to do.”
Freddie’s stellar junior career culminated in winning silver in the European Junior Championships with 2013 before making his senior breakthrough in 2014. He then won bronze in the National Cup before taking a pair of golds at the British Championships in the 1m and also the 3m synchro with partner Nick Robinson-Baker.
Following this the pair went on to bring home a bronze medal in the 3m springboard synchro event for Team England at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Building strength for 2017
Now he’s working on building strength so he can learn more technically difficult dives to earn him more podium places in competition.
Freddie’s regular training schedule includes a mix of wet and dry training – two and a half hours a day in the pool followed by three hours in the gym – practicing on diving springboards into crash mats, followed by lots of core and conditioning work.
“Diving’s a very technical sport, very dynamic”, he told BBC Sheffield. “You have to do lots of intricate movements very quickly and make very small, tight shapes, so flexibility is of paramount importance.
“The main thing is my legs and core are strong. I don’t need a strong upper body, but I need strong glutes, quads and calves so I can jump. You have to be able to jump high – the stronger your legs are, the higher you can jump – and the harder dives you can do.
We’re proud to have Freddie as one of our Team England Athlete Ambassadors in the lead up to the Gold Coast in less than 15 months time.
Keep an eye out on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as here on our News page as we follow Freddie and the other Ambassadors on their
journey to the Gold Coast!
Listen again to Freddie's full interview on BBC Sheffield (expires in 22 days).