Celina Toth of Victoria ready to dive into Olympics today

Celina Toth made news during the Olympics without taking a dive. Or at least her boyfriend, B.C. Transit driver Stephen Bains, made it for her last week by lining up five buses in the Langford with the messages on the electronic front reader boards: “TOKYO 2020NE | FLY | HIGH | CELINA | #TOKYO 2020NE.”

Now it’s time for Toth to make an actual splash in the Tokyo pool as the Victoria Boardwork diver’s 10-metre women’s event begins today at 11 p.m. PT.

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“I want to show everybody what I can do and the 15 dives I can be happy with,” Toth said from Tokyo.

She knows she’s not the star on a Canadian team that has won two medals at each Summer Olympics since Sydney 2000, including silver so far in Tokyo in the synchronized three-metre springboard through Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini- Beaulieu.

“It’s been a very long journey for me,” said Toth, 29, who relocated to Victoria in 2010 from London, Ont. “I pretty much grew up at Saanich Commonwealth Place. It literally changed my career and allowed me to propel myself in my career.”

Toth has been a stalwart for 11 years with the Victoria Boardworks Club and is a true battler. “I was told [by others outside the club] you’re not the best and not good enough but I never let those things shape me. I’ve been persistent. I never gave up. Now I’m so happy to be an Olympian.”

Toth graduated in 2019 from the University of Victoria with a degree in psychology and has three medals, including gold, from the 2015 and 2017 World University Games. She placed ninth in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and was finalist and top-12 in the FINA World Cup in 2016 and 2018. Toth won her first Grand Prix gold medal in Rostock, Germany, in 2019.

Her world standing won Canada a berth in the women’s 10 metre for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but when roster selection time came she wasn’t chosen to fill that spot for the Games. But she would not be denied a spot this time for Tokyo.

The only regret is not having Bains and her family with her in the spectator-less Tokyo Games for her Olympic moment.

But these Summer Games, which have taken away so much from the athletes, gave a little bit back. Because she is competing in the second week of the Games, Toth was one of the few Canadian athletes able to march in the Olympic opening ceremony behind co-flagbearers basketball player Miranda Ayim and sevens rugby team captain and former University of Victoria Vikes great Nathan Hirayama — a memory never to be forgotten.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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