Jenny Cowen: Leeds diver takes the Olympic plunge INTERVIEW

Jenny Cowen.
Jenny Cowen.
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City of Leeds diving stars Sarah Barrow, Jack Laugher, Becky Gallantree and Alicia Blagg have been recovering from their World Cup exploits this week in which Barrow and Tonia Couch won bronze.

But putting in the graft back up north was 10m platform hopeful Jenny Cowen who hopes that the London 2012 Games will be her turn to shine.

Cowen, just 20, has made steady progress over the last two years with 2011 providing the individual highlights through qualification for both the World Championships and European Championships in which the Yorkshire star was fourth.

Not that the success has been any surprise with Cowen’s promise long being apparent with the 2008 Arena Cup success alongside Suzanne Collins in the 10m synchro.

Right now, Cowen’s sole focus is on the 10m platform and the competition is rife with the likes of Stacie Powell, Monique Gladding and Brooke Graddon as well as last week’s heroes Couch and Barrow – all competing for what is likely to be just two spots at the London Games.

Keighley-born Cowen was fifth at the recent British nationals – ahead of Barrow in sixth – and she quietly fancies her chances of making the necessary progress to bag a dream spot at London 2012.

“Just because I didn’t get chosen for the World Cup in London doesn’t mean that I won’t get chosen later down the line,” a determined Cowen told LS1.

“The World Cup places got chosen after the British Cup and the two in the top spots went down to try to qualify. I didn’t get one of the top spots but I’m not far behind.

“It’s tough competition amongst the top few divers and even from Leeds there is Sarah Barrow.

“We have done synchro together before but now I am focusing on the 10m individual and it’s been going well as last year was probably the best year in competition that I have had.

“I qualified for the Worlds and went to the World Junior Games.

“Hopefully, if I can carry on like that then I can make it to the Olympics and if I could get there it would be my dream come true.

“For every kid your dream is to be at the Olympics.

“I’ve been diving for so long – this is my 13th year – so I’ve been working hard.”

Of that there is no doubt with Cowen’s life revolving around diving – the Leeds Met University graduate, who studied sports science, now coaching young divers in both Bradford and Leeds.

With Cowen also training six days a week at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds, it means a life that is almost entirely pool based, aside from Thursday mornings and Sundays – cherished time off.

And diving is in a way also partly responsible for Cowen’s long-term career plan – with the Leeds youngster intent one day on becoming a stunt woman.

Explaining that idea, Cowen laughed: “A couple of years back I did a TV piece as a body double.

“Ever since then it’s just been something that I thought I would love to give a go after diving.

“At the moment we train every day apart from Sunday and I get Thursday mornings off. The rest of the time it’s train and work.

“When I’m not diving I like seeing friends and socialising.

“Obviously every girl likes shopping as well but I just like relaxing when you get a bit of your own time.”

Not that there’s much of it with the former Parkside School student dedicated to her sport and having recently moved from home-town Bradford to Leeds to be nearer her training base.

Diving has taken over Cowen’s life – 13 years on from when the youngster decided to give the sport a go after watching older brother Matthew, who is now 23.

Then it was Jenny’s turn to set the tone with younger brother David – now 19 – following her example and still training at the John Charles Centre.

Cowen revealed: “It all started for me because of my older brother Matthew.

“He started diving when he was very young and then I started at Shipley.

“I was watching him from the balcony and thought rather than just being bored sat up there I’d rather be joining in.

“Then I gradually worked my way up.

“My brother got to a good standard but had to give it up through injury. He then travelled the world doing show diving.

“He’s just finished that and is coaching in Southend now.

“my younger brother David is diving as well. We all followed in each other’s footsteps.”

Footsteps that now have Cowen on an Olympic trail – whether it be London 2012 or longer term Rio 2016.

“when you are training the Olympics are always on your mind,” admitted Cowen, who is sponsored by Eze Group and JCT 600 BMWs.

“You’ve got something big to aim for so you don’t feel like you are going into training for no reason.

“if you get there it’s a great achievement and all your hard work will have paid off.

“But I’m only 20 so if I don’t get into this one I will carry on for 2016 in Rio.

“Things are going well and it’s great training at Leeds and having people with such ability around you, as you look up to them.

“All through competitions you see them doing well and you think that you want to be like that and be better than them.”

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