Meet Alicia Blagg, the 19-year-old from Leeds diving for Gold in Rio

She trains for 22 hours a week

We had a chat with Olympic diver, Alicia Blagg – one of the athletes taking Girl Power to the Rio Olympics 2016 who is aged just 19.

The down-to-earth athlete will be competing in the women’s three-metre springboard diving event in a couple of weeks.

Going to an ordinary sixth-form college in Yorkshire, albeit with a not-so-ordinary adolescence, Alicia still enjoys the work hard/play hard perks, while jet setting across the globe for various training camps and competitions.

It sounds like a pretty chilled and luxurious life, but drawing closer to the beginning of the 2016 Olympic Games, starting next Friday, Alicia has been working harder than ever – which is more than most students can say, slumming through the summer on sun bathers.

Currently at a training camp in Florida, and moving to Rio de Janeiro in a few days, Alicia spared the time to have a chat with us.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do

So I’m from Leeds, I live in a lovely little village called Woodlesford. And I’ve been diving for 12 years now (I started at the age of 7). And am soon to be moving to Miami, and studying at university there.

How much do you train?

I train roughly around 22 hours a week. Two hours of dry land nearly every day and two hours in the pool a day. And then we have to do weights three hours a week, I do a lot of squatting and leg bases stuff because my legs have to be strong.

What does a typical week look like for you?

I train every day except Sunday. My only day off. Which I spend either in bed, with friends or with family.

I try to eat healthy and I try to eat small portions because we don’t burn off that many calories like other sports. So it’s hard because I’m ALWAYS so hungry and just want to keep eating but if I do that I get fat. And in diving you’re wearing a costume so you also wanna feel confident when you are wearing it.

And my social life… Hmm, well it is existent. All my really close friends are at uni so I don’t get to see them often, but I do try to keep the balance there, so after a long day of training I usually go out for food with friends and try to just take my mind away from the pool because it’s good to have that, spending all your time focused on a sport can get very hard, so breaking your time up is good for every athlete in my opinion.

What’s the best thing about being an Olympic diver/athlete?

The best thing is all the people that we get to meet when traveling the around the world. All the divers in the world are good friends and we all get along! You meet some amazing people and also we get to travel to some amazing places! We are so lucky.

What’s the worst thing about being an Olympic diver?

The way my body feels, training that many hours every week does take its toll. My legs hurt most days, it’s mentally challenging too. Also I ended up breaking my wrist back in 2013 diving off of the seven-metre board. And to this day I still have such bad problems with it, I’ve had nine steroid injections in it over two years.

I’m having surgery after the Olympics, so I’m super excited to have it sorted out.

How did it affect your school years? 

It has affected my schooling a lot. I’ve missed a lot of school due to going on competitions but I worked hard to get good grades in my GCSES. However once I got to A level that’s when it god hard, I did my first year and I passed all my exams bar one. But the grades still were not up to my standards. Missing school and trying to still do A levels for me I found difficult.

Once I got to second year of my A-levels I had to choose between school or diving, which was a hard decision for me. But I wanted to make the Olympics again; so I chose diving.

I had one year left which to this day I wish I could have finished. But I now have a plan: I’m moving to Miami to go to university there. I’m going to be studying criminology and I got a sporting scholarship. So I’ll be living there for five years doing school and diving together which I’m so excited about.

If you weren’t an Olympic diver, what would you be? *

I’m studying criminology at uni next year so probably some to do with detective work.

What have you had to give up for diving?

To be honest not much, I think I have a great balance in my life. I get to go on holidays when we have time off, I still get to see my friends and whatnot.. The only thing I had to give up was probably fast food, haha, and I love that so much. I still get to go out and do normal teenager stuff, but obviously that’s all in kind of pre season, when it comes closer to competitions then it stops. I haven’t been out in a long time.

Where’s your favourite place to go out in Leeds?

My favourite place in Leeds is Call Lane, there are loads of cool bars. But my favourite place to go out-out is Space.

Have you got a strict diet or are you allowed to treat yourself? If so, what’s your guilty pleasure food?

We don’t have so much of a strict diet, but I know what to eat and what not to eat. I don’t eat bad food that often, and when I do I don’t feel great the next morning because my body isn’t used to it. But my guilty pleasure food would be a Chinese, my family have it every Sunday evening, and I don’t get to have any of it but sometimes I do treat myself to it every now and again.

What are you most looking forward to (other than competing) in Rio?

Probably just being there and getting to wear the amazing GB kit. There is no better feeling than getting to represent your country! Also getting to meet all the different athletes. And the food hall is pretty great too, it’s so big and there is so much to choose from. After I’ve finished competing I can also take big advantage of the twenty-four-hour free McDonald’s there too. I think I’ll hopefully deserve it.

You can follow Alicia’s progress in Rio on Instagram or Twitter.