Future Big Green Diver Gillis Looks To Make His Mark at Canadian Olympic Trials

Note: Gillis finished in 16th place in the 10-meter at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials held May 25-27 in Montreal, Canada. 

It isn't every day that a high school senior is invited to the Olympic Trials but for Dartmouth incoming freshman diver, Brett Gillis that is just the opportunity he is faced with.  Brett will be among Canada's Olympic hopefuls at the 2012 Canadian Trials set for May 25-27 in Montreal.

Gillis has been diving for the majority of his life, first getting involved in the sport at the ripe old age of six. Oddly enough, it was the Winter Olympics that sparked his interest in diving.

 "I had recently begun skiing at our local ski hill, and was quite enthused when the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City appeared on my television," said Gillis.  "I watched the freestyle skiing, and the death-defying stunts and flips they did absolutely mesmerized me. During a commercial break during this event, the broadcasting network featured a quick look at how these athletes trained in the summer, off of a ramp and into a pool. Because I had decided this was what I wanted to do, when my father was at the local Rec Center he saw a flyer for the Diving Club, and immediately signed me up. The opportunity to fling myself off of diving boards and do flips was thrilling, and led me to where I am today."

Gillis has been a top diver in his age group and has versatility to compete in both the platform and springboard events. He's a member of the Canadian Junior National team and a three-time synchronized diving national finalist.

This weekend's Olympic Trials aren't Gillis' first experience on the national level. Several years ago he was invited to a National team training camp and identified as a hopeful for the 2016 Olympics.

"Being invited to attend the Canadian Olympic Trials is a huge honor. It feels really good to have been recognized as a top athlete after my 10 years of training, and it will give me an opportunity to hopefully show what I am capable of. After being invited to the National training camp a few years getting an early start by being invited to these trials is extremely encouraging."

Being one of the youngest competitors at Trials isn't something that Gillis thinks about and it actually serves as motivation for him.

"I hope to put on a good showing, to let the officials and Dive Canada know that I am pushing myself to get to the next level. By performing well I will show that even as one of the youngest competitors, I am still competitive. Though I am unlikely to place in the top grouping, anything can happen, I will be trying to place among the middle of the pack, passing divers who have always been ahead of me in the past.

It is quite a cool feeling knowing that right now, I am eligible for the 2012 Olympics, and only one competition will make the difference. Lately, I have only been thinking about these trials as an opportunity to compete on the Canadian Senior National stage, but in reality, I am "trying out" for the Olympics! Just thinking that I am so close to achieving my dream makes me want to push even harder."

Gillis has a long list of diving role models that he looks up to and he is certainly a role model himself to rising diving stars.

"Some divers that I have looked up to throughout my career are Alexandre Despatie, He Chong, Reuben Ross, and Tom Daley. Alexandre was the first I looked up to, as he had received two silver medals at the Olympics, and was the top Canadian diver. I have met him a few times when I was younger, and have seen him countless times since. He Chong is one of the top Chinese divers, and with their extreme training and dedication, that is quite the accomplishment. Chong can do such amazing dives, and usually never receives under an eight.  Reuben Ross is now Alexandre's synchro partner, and after returning to Canada after training at Miami University, has definitely shown his talent. Lastly, Tom Daley is only 18 years old and will be competing in the 2012 Olympics in his home country. Tom is basically the current child prodigy in diving, and it is amazing that he can compete with others who have been diving for up to 15 years longer.

While Gillis isn't set to leave the international diving scene for quite some time, he will be continuing his career as a member of the Dartmouth swimming and diving team next season.

"I began my college search with two criteria I wanted to meet. I wanted to attend a great school that would provide me with an excellent education, and I wanted to be a part of a diving team that would help improve my skills. Obviously, Dartmouth is an amazing school, being in the Ivy League, and ranked so highly, and the diving team will definitely help me advance in the world of sport. The team is all very friendly, close-knit, and supportive, and Chris (Hamilton) is definitely going to be a good coach for me as I further my career.   

Gillis' long-term goal is to attend the Olympics and it looks like he is well on his way and who knows, we might even be cheering him on this summer!