Photo: Mexican Diver Omar Ojeda New Coach at University of Arizona
Mexican diver Omar Ojeda starts a new chapter in his life as coach of the University of Arizona diving team, with which he starred a decade ago.
Ojeda, who represented Mexico in many international diving meets after shining at college in the United States, is remembered as the best male diver in UA history.
“As a kid I was something of a pest, very fidgety and restless, which is why my parents signed me up for sports like athletics, karate, things that would soak up a little of my energy, but nothing really worked until I took up swimming,” the 32-year-old Ojeda told Efe.
He recalls that it was watching others hurling themselves off a platform that awakened his interest in diving.
In April 2007 Ojeda took the silver medal in the 3-meter springboard competition representing Mexico in the Madrid Grand Prix.
He qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but in the end was unable to take part.
During his years at UA, Ojeda set four records that are still standing, and three years ago he was inducted into the University of Arizona Hall of Fame.
Before taking a bachelor’s degree en 2002, Ojeda was a five-time NCAA All-American and a two-time Pac-10 Athlete of the Year.
In 2008 he retired from the Mexican national team after winning 17 championships in order to become an assistant coach. He later left that post to head the diving program at UA.
“This is a different experience, but the experience you acquired as an athlete helps a lot - you know what it means to be a little jittery and insecure when the time comes for a diving meet to start,” Ojeda said about the change from athlete to coach.
“Every diving meet is different, every dive is different and until your last dive you don’t know if you’re a winner or a loser,” he said.
He said that now as a coach he wants to pass his experience along to his team - along with a dose of psychology - since in his own life Ojeda has had to overcome a number of obstacles.
“I thought it would take two months to get my work permit but it took four - it was even denied at one point, but the university always supported me,” said the Mexican, who officially assumed his new position last month.
He said that the people who always inspired and motivated him to keep on with his career and do better every day were his parents, not only in sports but also in personal and professional matters.
“They taught me to follow my dreams while remaining committed to my studies, ethics and morality,” he said.
Ojeda believes that in the history of college sports in the United States not enough Mexican athletes have taken part.
“We have a good reputation, there have always been scholarships but I think that we sometimes lose these chances because we don’t learn to speak English well, because of our limited use of the language,” he said.