22.08.2008 – Graham Croker

Sydney University diver and Sports Scholarship holder Alexander Croak reached the semi-finals of the 10-metre platform at the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday, but failed to progress to the gold medal round.

Croak, 24, was ranked fourth after a wonderful preliminary round, but struggled with three of her dives in the semi-finals and was at or near the tail of the classy field throughout.

“It’s disappointing after I did well (in the preliminaries) last night,” said Croak.

Although the semi-finals were held just 12 hours after the preliminaries, Croak didn’t blame the short recovery time for her semi-final performances.

“I’ve been doing double 10m sessions at training back-to-back, so I was prepared for it, that was always on the cards,” she said.

A Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder, Croak created her own piece of history when she won finished second in the 10m platform category at the Australian Olympic Selection Trials in Hobart earlier in the year. She scored 78.20 in her final dive of the event to finish second behind Melissa Wu and book her place in the Australian diving team for Beijing.

That made her one of a select few athletes to represent Australia in two different sports in Olympic competition.

Croak represented Australia as a gymnast at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and won an all round gymnastics team gold medal and individual vault silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

She then retired from competitive sport altogether, until itchy sporting feet a year later led her to write to renowned NSW Institute of Sport diving coach Chava Sobrino, to ask him to take her on as a “mature age” diving student.

He accepted the offer and the partnership quickly reaped rewards when she teamed with Melissa Wu to win silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Olympic selection for Beijing made Croak the first Australian to compete in two different disciplines since Nova Peris achieved the feat by winning gold with the Hockeyroos in Atlanta in 1996 and representing Australia in athletics in 2000.