Diving: Freida Lim becomes first female Singaporean diver to qualify for Olympics

SINGAPORE – After having to navigate trials and tribulations, Singaporean diver Freida Lim has earned her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. She will also become Singapore’s first female diver at the quadrennial sports extravaganza.

With a five-dive score of 289.60, the 23-year-old placed 11th out of 35 athletes in the women’s 10m platform preliminary at the Fina Diving World Cup in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 4) to qualify for Wednesday’s 18-strong semi-finals, which confirms her place at the Olympics.

At this competition, up to 18 Olympic spots per event are up for grabs for each country which has not already secured two places.

Lim was a competitive swimmer when she was a child, but was diagnosed with Grave’s disease – an autoimmune disorder which leads to an overactive thyroid gland, also known as hyperthyroidism – when she was 13.

While her thyroid function normalised after two years through medication, she had to switch to a less endurance-based sport and chose diving because of her affinity for the pool.

Lim’s diving potential was affirmed when she claimed a silver with Myra Lee in the women’s synchronised 10m platform and a bronze in the women’s 10m platform at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil.

She followed that up with four silver medals in the aforementioned events, as well as the mixed synchronised 10m platform and mixed team events with Jonathan Chan at the 2017 SEA Games. Lim did not take part in the next edition as there were no platform events.

In 2016, she was awarded a full athletic scholarship at Clemson University in the United States and became the first Singaporean diver to compete in the top division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) system.

However, after her freshman year, she was left scrambling for a new school after Clemson abruptly dropped its diving programme.

Fortunately, she was picked up by University of Georgia, where she enjoyed an impressive NCAA career. In 2018/19, Lim finished 15th in the NCAA Championships platform final and earned an Honorable Mention All-America citation.

Lim will be joined in Tokyo by fellow trailblazer Chan, who was the first Singaporean diver to qualify for the Games, when he did so in 2019 to also become the first Singaporean athlete to earn a spot at the 2020 Games.

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