Founder Mitch Geller established the Victoria Boardworks diving club as a legacy project of the 1994 Commonwealth Games. It is still paying dividends nearly three decades later at Saanich Commonwealth Place.
Victoria Boardworks scored a hat-trick into the dive tank with three competitors named to the Canadian team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Tokyo Olympian Celina Toth will be joined by Boardworks teammates Bryden Hattie and Renée Batalla. Toth will contest the women’s 10-metre and 10-metre syncho events, Hattie the men’s one-metre, three-metre and three-metre synchro and Batalla will move up from the junior ranks to senior in women’s 10 metre.
Tommy McLeod of Boardworks is among the coaching staff for the Games.
“The Commonwealth Games are happening at the ideal time for our young team this year and we’re expecting most of our divers to be close to delivering peak performances,” said Geller, chief technical officer of Diving Canada.
“Some of our team members will have had the chance to warm up at the FINA world championships starting this week in Budapest and we’re looking forward to being in a multi-sport Games environment as our younger team members prepare for Paris 2024,” added Geller, in a statement.
The Commonwealth Games team was selected through the results at the 2022 national championships in May at Saanich Commonwealth Place.
The Olympians named to the team include Toth, Caeli McKay of Calgary, Cedric Fofana of Montreal, Rylan Wiens of Saskatoon and Nathan Zsombar-Murray of Pointe-Claire, Que. Also named are Margo Erlam of Calgary, Mia Vallée of Beaconsfield, Que., and Benjamin Tessier of Blainville, Que.
Boardworks’ Toth and Hattie are among four divers who also competed in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where Canada won six medals, including one gold.
Hattie was 2022 NCAA Div. 1 bronze medallist in men’s 10 metre this year with the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Toth, 30, is the longest-diving member of the Boardworks Games trio and is a 12-year veteran of the club since relocating from London, Ont., in 2010 and has said: “It’s been a very long journey for me. I pretty much grew up at Saanich Commonwealth Place. It literally changed my career and allowed me to propel myself in my career.”
Toth, who graduated in 2019 from UVic with a degree in psychology, won three medals, including gold, in the 2015 and 2017 World University Games.
Toth was part of headlines during the Tokyo Olympics outside the pool when her boyfriend, B.C. Transit driver Stephen Bains, lined up five buses in the Langford yard with the messages on the electronic front boards: “TOKYO 2020NE | FLY | HIGH | CELINA | #TOKYO 2020NE.”
The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games run July 28 to Aug. 8 with the diving scheduled Aug. 4-7 at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
The Boardworks divers will be among the nearly 50 Island or Island-based athletes competing on the Canadian teams in various sports at the Birmingham Games.