Ukraine’s wonderkid Oleksii Sereda making a splash at the Olympics

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Oleksii Sereda of Team Ukraine competes in the Men's 10m Platform preliminaries on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Oleksii Sereda of Team Ukraine competes in the Men's 10m Platform preliminaries on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The 15-year-old is leaving a mark at his Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Remember this name: Oleksii Sereda

The rising diving star may only be 15, but he has presented himself at his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 as if it were his fifth Games. Cool, calm and confident.

"I feel very happy and proud," he said to Olympics.com ahead of the 10m platform diving.

The Ukrainian wonderkid began with a finished sixth overall in qualifying on Friday (6 August) with a points total of 435.90.

Sereda showed his intentions from the start, with a magnificent inward 3.5 somersault tuck on his first effort to go third. His form became a little looser as the difficulty of his jumps increased, but he was never out of the top seven in all six of his dives.

While Sereda shows great respect to the establishment, he does not seem to be intimidated by the likes of 10m synchro Olympic champion Tom Daley, double Olympic gold medallist Yuan Cao and double world champion Jian Yang.

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Oleksii Sereda of Team Ukraine competes in the Men's 10m Platform preliminaries on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Oleksii Sereda of Team Ukraine competes in the Men's 10m Platform preliminaries on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

Sereda's record

Sereda first made a splash in the diving world when he won the 10m individual title at the 2019 European Diving Champions, aged just 13. He only learnt to swim seven years previously.

That performance made him the sport’s youngest European champion ever, being three months younger than Tom Daley when the Briton won his maiden continental title in 2008.

Sereda became an overnight hero in Ukraine, and his social media profiles swelled.

But with the guiding hand of his parents and the Ukrainian Diving Federation, he remained focussed, finishing fourth in the 10m platform at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju to qualify his spot at the Olympics.

Just months before the Games he became a European Championships gold medallist, winning the 10m mixed synchro title alongside Kseniia Bailo.

He will now aim to do what Daley couldn’t, and win a medal in his first Olympic Games.