In August 2016, Brittany O’Brien represented Australia in the Rio Olympics for Diving at just 18 years old. She’s about to share her extraordinary achievement and what it has meant for her behind the scenes with you! Brittany grew up in Sydney and graduated from Pymble Ladies’ College just a few months after she came back from Rio.
Hi Brittany - it's so nice to meet you! To first get to know you, what are 3 things you love?
2. I'm an animal freak
3. I can’t live without coffee
If you could have one superpower? Visit anywhere in the world? What's the best part of graduating?
Mind reading, so I can make really witty comments and freak people out – and know who secretly hates me.
Visit anywhere in the world:
Best part of graduating:
Having more freedom! And not having the guilt that I should be studying when I’m not..
What's the most embarrassing memory of high school?
My most memorable embarrassing moments was back in 2013/14, I was diving for a display at the school pool, there were a LOT of people watching – expecting greatness. However, I slipped off the end of the 5m platform and landed flattttt on my back in front of everyone. I resurfaced to the crowd collectively gasping, followed by the most painful silence, and people rushing over asking if I was okay! My back may have stung but my pride stung more, goes to show – we’re not all perfect!
What went through your mind when you were told you’d be going to the Olympics?
To be honest I was still half asleep when I heard the news! It’s hard to describe the feeling, I had so many mixed emotions. Obviously I was incredibly excited, but there was also an aspect of nervousness and I was quite overwhelmed – especially when I opened my phone to heaps of messages from reporters!
What is the atmosphere like in the Olympic Village?
It was a crazy feeling living in the Olympic Village, it almost felt like living on another planet. Everyone was so confident – even myself, which is rare. It felt like a place of no judgement, everyone talked to anyone, and it was comforting knowing we were all there for the same reason.
What were you thinking when you dived off the platform with millions watching you?
I treated it as though it were any other competition, and in any other competition, I just do the dives as though I’m in training – I don’t change anything. I focused on each individual dive, and the things I had to do to perform the dive as best as I could. I didn’t let my mind wander, I just pretended as though I was back training at home like any other day, and that really helped me control my nerves.
How do you personally define success? Where are you going from here?
Some people have asked if I feel amazing now that I’ve achieved ‘ultimate success’ and have reached my dreams of going to the Olympics. But, there is always more that can be done. I don’t want to stop at making an Olympics, I want to keep going, and medal at the Olympics. And then after that, I know there will be more things I want to achieve. So, I think success is defined by the little things that make you happy, things that you know you’ve performed well in/achieved. Whether it be getting a good mark at school, or even talking to someone in your class that you’ve always wanted to get to know. If you’ve pursued something and you’ve gotten something positive out of it – whether the journey there was quick and easy or long and hard, I think that is success in itself.
What is one quality you see in yourself that has brought you where you are?
Resilience. I’ve had to go through a few awful situations – particularly in the past 6 months or so – including the sudden death of my boyfriend/close friend 2 months prior to Rio. If I hadn’t been resilient and kept training through these setbacks, no matter how hard it was, I wouldn’t have been ready to perform at the Olympics.
Behind the success, how much time did you dedicate to training? What about school work / social life?
I trained (and still do) 24 hours a week. 4 mornings from 6-7.30am, (which are normally gym work) then 5 afternoons from 4-7pm, and then a few hours on a Saturday. So I would drive straight from training to school, then straight from school to training, then back home. During the week I had no time to socialise outside of school/training, so I had to save it for the weekends – but often when the weekends came around I was either swamped with work from throughout the week or just too exhausted to go out!
What are your future plans? Including college, work, and diving?
I would love to be in Tokyo for 2020! It would be a whole new experience, and I’d have 4 more years of training under my belt. In the meantime, I plan on training as hard as I can, and hopefully going to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 – and ideally, medal! Study-wise I think I will do some sort of film/design course, and if not, work for a while, preferably with makeup and beauty!
What's your advice to young aspiring Olympians?
This not only applies to those who want to be Olympians, but to everybody. If you feel like you aren’t performing in your sport/education, or whatever it is, or, you are going through a tough personal situation and feel like nothing’s going right, just know that a time of good will come. It sounds cliche, but all storms pass! For me, I had a terrible personal loss, but my good came shortly after when I received that phone call telling me I was going to the Olympics. In 2013, I nearly ended my diving career because I wasn’t improving – but I found motivation in myself and look where I am now! Everything works out no matter how bad it may seem you just need to push through!