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Oleksii Sereda: ‘Care needed’ with diving champion, 13, after ‘crazy’ reaction to Euro gold

The Ukrainian Diving Federation says it must “take care” with Oleksii Sereda’s development after a “crazy” reaction to him becoming the sport’s youngest European champion.

The 13-year-old won 10m platform gold in his hometown of Kiev on Sunday.

He is three months younger than Tom Daley was when the Briton won his maiden European title in 2008.

“We expected him to medal but gold is unbelievable,” said the UDF’s sports manager Yaro Tokmachov.

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

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Victory meant that Sereda, who turns 14 in December, became a European diving champion just seven years after learning to swim.

He also came fourth at the World Championships three weeks ago.

“He’s still a child,” Tokmachov told Sport Today. “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.”

Sereda rewarded with education grant

Sereda’s parents took him to a pool to swim at the age of six but one of his early coaches “realised he had a talent for how he enters the water and introduced him to diving”.

His family moved from Nikolaev to Kiev when he was nine and after becoming European champion, he has been rewarded by UDF president Igor Lysov with a grant for free education at one of Kiev’s top schools, next to the pool he trains at. His older sister Maria, who is also a diver, will receive a 50% discount.

The minimum eligibility for divers at the Olympics is 14 so Sereda will be able to compete at Tokyo 2020, but the Ukraine team have not set any targets.

“He’s so young and no-one knows when he will start to grow,” Tokmachov added. “In the case of Tom Daley and many other athletes, when the body changes the technique will change as well.

“We can’t predict anything because maybe he will grow this winter, but so far he has a plan to increase the difficulty of at least two of his dives.”

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