Early morning starts at West Wave Pools and Leisure Centre didn’t deter Olympic diver Elizabeth Cui from following her dream.
She will be the first New Zealand diver to compete at the games in 24 years, winning a place in the women's 3 metre individual springboard in Rio.
Elizabeth, 18, who is studying at Louisiana State University in the United States, started training at the Council-owned West Auckland centre when she was nine.
Proud mum Ailing Cui, who teaches swimming at West Wave, says her daughter’s determination to succeed is one of the major reasons behind her success.
“I was dropping her off every single day at 5am in the morning. Lizzie would jump out of bed first, then come and get me up.”
Former coach Aurelie Gibson says West Wave has been instrumental in Elizabeth’s development.
Staff members developed tailored programmes that helped the teenager improve her fitness and technique.
“They gave their time and expertise,” says Aurelie. “It made a big difference helping Lizzie get stronger.”
She also received free access to the gym and pool.
West Wave has been a long time supporter of Auckland Diving and its high performance development programme, ensuring top performers like Elizabeth get the training time they need in the diving pool.
“A very big thank you to West Wave and all their staff. West Wave has been a huge support for us and the development of Lizzie,” Aurelie says.
Elizabeth has competed in overseas meets throughout her career to continually improve and progress, Ailing says.
The family saved hard so she could travel to these events, and also sought out sponsorship and scholarships so Elizabeth could reach international competition standard.
West Wave operations manager Alex Calwell says his team is thrilled to have been able to help Elizabeth on her journey to the Olympics.
“We are very excited for Lizzie and are right behind her as she competes.
“It is awesome to see one of our team achieve a lifelong goal. It shows the doors that can open through participating in aquatics.”
The Olympic diving programme runs from August 7-20.