Olympics-bound Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix says being the daughter of TV star Fred Sirieix sparks constant interest at school but remains determined to be defined by her exploits from the diving board.
The talented 16-year-old was on Wednesday named in Team GB’s 12-person diving squad for Tokyo 2020, where she will compete in the 10m platform event.
Her famous father is a maître d’hotel best known for appearing on Channel Four reality programme First Dates
The 49-year-old Frenchman has shown regular support for his daughter, proudly sharing her achievements on social media, in addition to attempting his own diving lessons at the London Aquatics Centre a month ago.
Spendolini-Sirieix, who admits to watching First Dates “from time to time” and finding it “quite funny”, will return to the Japanese capital having finished fourth there at last month’s FINA Diving World Cup and is eager to make more headlines.
“At school, they go ‘oh my gosh’, or they send pictures like ‘Andrea, this is your dad?’, she said.
“And I go, ‘yeah, it is’. But when people go ‘oh your dad is a celebrity’, I go, ‘oh no he’s not, he’s just my dad’.
“It doesn’t really affect my opinion of him at all. I’m so proud of what he does and he worked really hard to get where he is now.
“My dad and I have different fields; my dad is on TV and I jump off a diving board. My dad tried it – he can tell you it’s not the easiest thing.
“Since I started my journey as an athlete, I always wanted to go to the Olympics, it was a big dream, and that that will never change.
“I’m going with an open mind.
“Of course I want to medal, of course I want to do the best that I can do, but I want to show and I want to broadcast to everyone that I want to be the best, I can work hard to try and be the best and I’m so excited for this experience and I’m really, really happy.”
Spendolini-Sirieix’s place on the plane for Tokyo followed being crowned BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2020.
She and father Fred are not the only family members performing notable work.
Her uncle, Pierre Lao-Sirieix, is a director of AstraZeneca the pharmaceutical company which helped develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
“I love my uncle so much and I’m so proud of what he’s doing,” said Spendolini-Sirieix, who being under 18 has not yet been vaccinated.
“He’s so great, so smart as well.
“But I haven’t talked to him personally because I haven’t seen him in a really long time.”
Spendolini-Sirieix is fluent in three languages: English and French, plus the native tongue of her Italian mother.
With the Games pushed back a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she feels the delay may prove beneficial on a personal level.
“I don’t know (if I would have been selected last year). We would have seen at the World Cup in 2020 but with diving you can’t predict competition as there are so many uncertainties, especially because a dive might not go right, or you might be extremely nervous,” she said.
“There are so many factors that affect competition that you can’t say, ‘oh yes I would have gone’ or ‘no’.
“I’ve matured as a person, as an athlete, as a student and as a diver. I’ve had a lot to work on in January and February, and the pandemic helped me know exactly what I needed to work on and exactly how we could work on it.
“Obviously I’m a year older, I have more experience, and it’s definitely helped more than it’s hurt.”
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