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Super-Star: September 2013 Update

16 September 2013

Teenager Hannah Starling reached the 3m Springboard semi-final on her Olympic debut at London 2012. She fills us in on her progress in 2013 including a report on her results from the European and World Championships and how she spent her last summer before uni.

Wow - it has been a long while since I have caught up with you guys!

So I last left you when I was en route to Rostock for Europeans. Well a lot has happened since then!

All this extra info in my mind had prevented me from sleeping, meaning I was really tired as well... not so fun.Europeans was a whirlwind event. I only had the chance to practice my dives a couple of times before my competition day and so when the time came around I didn't feel confident about competing.

Not only had I had little practice but my mind was still all jumbled with equations and formulas from all my revision. All this extra info in my mind had prevented me from sleeping, meaning I was really tired as well... not so fun.

Nevertheless I was grateful to be in the competition environment again and embraced the event as much as I could. I gave two steady performances, finishing fourth in the prelim, seventh in the final and scored 288 points in both rounds!

It was refreshing to see all my international friends again. One downside of the diving life is that you make so many good friends but you only get to see them a few times a year so I really enjoyed talking to them all after so long!

A good side of a diving life however, is the warm weather training camps! So we jet-setted straight off to Majorca from Germany to begin a strength and conditioning camp for the week.

Tanning and training got under way as soon as possible except it was absolutely freezing for the first three days and training was really hard and horrible and there was no tanning done!

It was so cold that James Denny's lips went purple and we ended up lying on the concrete floor next to the boards to get some warmth on our bodies! A weird thing about the trip was Alicia [Blagg] didn't come to Majorca and so I was with all the older ones. She instead went to Junior European Championships where she won all her events!

It was so cold that James Denny's lips went purple.It was nice to get away from the commotion of life in Leeds and out to the peaceful ambience of Majorca, plus I can safely say we all got nicely bronzed (eventually).

I had a good 12 days at home before flying off to Barcelona for the World Championships. For those of you who have never been to Barcelona, go. Please. It is my favourite setting for a diving competition in the entire world and I find it hard to express the beauty of it.

The pool is positioned on the side of a hill, sporting a mouth-watering view of the city and making it open to the elements. Going up on the 10m board (the few times that I did) gave me the feeling of being so free. You stand there, the whole of Barcelona in front of your eyes, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair - that sounds like a typical happy-dappy book phrase but there is no other way to describe it!

The competition (3m) was really fun. I enjoyed it loads! I finished fourth in the prelim, 12th in the semi-final and seventh in the final. My final score was 326 points which is a big improvement from last year where I scored 313 in my main event of the year.

I was very happy with the way I dived. Not only did I perform consistently but seventh is the same placing my coach Edwin finished in the 3m springboard event at the 1992 Olympics in the same pool.

Also I need to add that getting through to the final was the best thing that has happened in my diving career! I was so thankful to be on the right side of the qualifying limit for once having finished 13th, 19th and 19th in the past World events (top 12 make final and top 18 make semis).

Plus I achieved my life goal - getting a sticker thingymabob to wear for the parade. You know those sponsorship ones you have to wear to advertise random companies? Yeah, one of them! Nobody understood why I was so happy about it but having watched sports events my whole life I have always wanted one. Now it is safely tucked away in my box ready to go up on my wall at uni!

After Barcelona I had a grand total of 10 hours in my house to pack and wash everything (and by wash I mean dump all my washing on my mum). After that time I had to set off on an Interrailing trip with my best friend Emily Austin.

It was a crazy trip. We slept alternate nights on a train and in a hostel, most with no air con at 40 odd degrees which was not comfortable!

We visited Paris, Berlin, Krakow, Vienna, Venice, Rome and Pisa on our 15-day trip. All the cities on our travels were stupendous but my favourite city of them all was Krakow. Since it was so close, Emily and I decided to visit Auschwitz.

It was a sobering and chilling experience and one which I never want to have again yet one which I am glad I had. It is overwhelming to think that I was standing in the place where the Holocaust occurred. I didn't realise that I was there until I put my camera in black and white and went to take a photo of one of the trains.

The moment I looked through the lens, my heart was in my mouth and my whole body went numb. I could not comprehend anything I was looking at anymore. I was completely overwhelmed and frozen with shock and horror. If I could capture that feeling from everyone in the world and destroy it from the human race I would. The visit will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life and I am sure the same can be said for Emily.

We got home on the evening of the 13th August so we had a day to relax before results day on the 15th. After all the effort and late nights I had put in to my exams I was really hoping I had done enough to get into university so I was nervous in the morning when I checked my grades.

I got an A in Chemistry, an A in Physics and an A in Maths meaning I got into Leeds Uni! Yayyy. I was so happy about my results. Now I move into my halls in five days...scary times!

My sisters and I were all dancing in the living room and all our friends were just staring at us like 'why are we even friends with these people?'I am, of course, looking forward to living by myself and being independent, apart from having to concoct edible food for myself and all that jazz. Oh, not to mention having to sort the laundry out before I wash it. Oh wow, I just realised this is gonna be hard!

After results day, I had my sister's 21st birthday party at home. It was the first time my family had been together since the Olympics and we partied like there was no tomorrow!

I absolutely loved it. My sisters and I were all dancing in the living room and all our friends were just staring at us like 'why are we even friends with these people?'. Then my parents joined in and it all got funnier!

We also tried to have a pinata smash down but we failed to read the instructions until after we had spent 45 minutes trying to destroy it. Then it turned out we didn't pull some cord which made it easy to break. Nightmare! I also sort of hijacked my sister's party and demanded an 18th birthday cake since I never had a party of my own.

It was nice and chocolatey and finally I feel like I have turned 18 as opposed to on my actual birthday when I didn't feel like I was any older, even though it was very birthdayish! It's a bit strange how little traditions like a cake and a good party make you feel like you have aged.

I went down to Cornwall for a few days after that to soak in the seaside. I never realised how hot and sunny the coast always is! It didn't rain once while I was there and the sun was smiling the whole time.

I went sailing and successfully jumped from one boat to another in the middle of a lake without getting a splash of water on me. As it was the most athletic thing I had done for nearly a month I was quite impressed that it worked! After that little trip finished, I came back to Leeds and had a nice Monday tidying my room before back to training on Tuesday.

Now I have been back training for more than two weeks. It is quite hard getting back into a routine but I am sure once I am packed and moved and unpacked again I will feel much better. It seems like my life is currently spent just waiting for next Wednesday so bring it on!

So there we have it, that was my summer in a nutshell and most of it was spent being busy – I don't feel like I have had a rest. But I am looking forward to starting my maths degree and beginning the next chapter in my life.

Until then, I have been Hannah Starling and this has been my blog. Thank you and goodnight!

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