'Unbelievable': 13-year-old stuns diving world in never-before-seen moment

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Diving has never seen a younger European gold medallist than Oleksii Sereda.

The 13-year-old Ukrainian has stunned the diving world by becoming the youngest European champion in the sport’s history.

Sereda won gold in the 10m European Diving Championships in Kiev recently, breaking Tom Daley’s record for youngest champion ever.

British diver Daley was three months older than Sereda.

“I’m happy that I could finish on the first place. My third dive was not that good but the others were satisfying,” he said afterwards.

Oleksii Sereda won gold at the European Championships. Image: MAT4

“I wouldn’t say I was not nervous before the competition, if you see differently then you saw it wrong.

“I was just as nervous as everyone else, I just kept thinking on my dives, wanted to keep my focus and close out any chance to commit any mistakes.”

Sereda scored 91.20 with his penultimate dive, before an 81.60 with his final dive to take out the event.

“We expected him to medal but gold is unbelievable,” Ukrainian Diving Federation sports manager Yaro Tokmachov said.

“When everyone realised he’d become European champion they all went crazy. There was a huge celebration.”

Oleksii Sereda in action. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Sereda heading for Olympics

He also finished fourth at the world championships in July, in a promising sign ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The minimum age for divers to compete at the Olympics is 14, and Sereda’s birthday in December makes him eligible.

However officials are wary about pushing him too hard too soon.

“He’s still a child,” Tokmachov said. “Now it’s very important to manage all things around him properly because he’s become very popular in Ukraine and around the world.

“His subscribers on Instagram and other social media is growing like crazy. It’s very important how he and his parents behave now.

“The strategy of his coaching and management are some of the many important things we need to take care of.”