Olympic Diver and Businessman
Grant Nel migrated from South Africa with his family in 2000. The following year he enrolled at Yarra, joining Year 7.
He was already an elite gymnast and had represented South Africa in the international sports arena. In Australia, Grant transitioned to the diving board. He also made a smooth transition into his new school.
“I started a new school in a new country and I had to learn the Aussie lingo and make new friends. But I had great support from Yarra and my family,” recalls Grant.
“I struggled with English and reading and Yarra spotted I had a problem and worked out that I was dyslexic. We got on the front foot with the issue then, and I now have two university degrees.”
Grant juggled sport and academic studies at Yarra with a successful diving career that saw him spend countless hours in the pool. He was in the water by 6am each day and trained again after school.
Grant’s dedication saw him represent Australia for 22 years. He competed at five World Championships and six World Cups. In 2016, Grant became an Olympian.
“One of my best memories is of wearing my Olympic uniform, being announced and walking out on the pool deck. I saw my family in ‘Team Nel’ colours and that moment was also for them. My career had involved a massive commitment for my family – they spent hours with me at training and driving me to training,”
At Yarra, Grant also remembers the commitment of his teachers, particularly those who helped uncover his dyslexia.
“When I was younger, learning to read had been frustrating. I didn’t know why I couldn’t do it. Yarra worked out that I was dyslexic. It can still be frustrating but you have to work at what you are bad at and get better.”
Grant has maintained friendships with students he met at School. He has a tight-knit group of six Yarra Old Grammarians who catch up with each other as often as they can.
“My friends supported me – I missed their 18th and 21st birthdays because I was away competing. But they’d come and watch me compete whenever they could. We are friends for life.”
Last year, Grant became a father for the first time and he’s also retired from diving. He works in sales but maintains a link to his sport as a diving coach.
“My daughter is the joy of our lives, despite the sleepless nights! She’s the greatest thing that has happened to me,” says Grant