Fireman CELY is French diving's answer to multi-tasking
EDINBURGH - As he stands at the end of the diving board preparing to launch himself into a series of complex acrobatic movements, Damien CELY (FRA) stands out from the rest of the divers training for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.
The 29-year-old diminutive Frenchman has a powerful upper body more associated with a rugby player, wrestler or weightlifter, in stark contrast to the svelte figures who have moved into Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool ahead of the start of the competition on Monday 6 August.
CELY is different from his rivals in another unusual way - he spends his days saving lives with gallons of water as well as thinking up spectacular ways of plunging into it.
The Frenchman works as a full-time fireman in Paris, juggling one of the most dangerous and unpredictable jobs with training for one of the most spectacular and precise sports.
"My preparation has gone well but the only problem is juggling the job and diving," CELY said. "At the moment I can only train a maximum of eight hours per week instead of 20 or 25.
"I have to do training in a different way. I do some sport at work. But, if there is an incident, I’m off. If somebody needs help during training, we have to stop and go and help someone. Sometimes I may not get to bed the whole night and we have to adapt the training the next day."
CELY gave up diving six years ago after reaching his goal of competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games, fulfilling a promise he had made to his mother on her deathbed.
Another promise has brought him back into the sport. CELY told his compatriot Matthieu ROSSET that he would return to diving if Paris won the right to stage the Olympic Games in 2024, so that the two Frenchmen had the chance to compete together in the 3m synchronised event.
When the International Olympic Committee gave the French capital the Games last September, CELY, who had kept himself fit doing gymnastics events as well as competing in "Luta Livre" (a Brazilian type of wrestling), immediately returned to training.
He will compete in the men's 1m and 3m springboard events at Glasgow 2018, his first major event since London 2012 where he was eliminated in the preliminaries.
"I am someone who keeps my promises," he said. "After London 2012 I went straight back to the fire brigade. I did nothing (in diving) for six years. I looked after my private life and my job and did some gymnastics stuff.
"It is very hard and different now. Before, when I competed, I was able to combine training with my studying and know I would get a good night's sleep.
"Many competitors in France do a job but they don't do many hours so that they can train. I do just as many hours for my job as for my training. But I'm trying to show this year that you can do both."
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