A 14-year-old diver from Arizona is proving that “anyone can do anything” with his amazing diving skills.
In a now-viral TikTok, Zeke Sanchez is seen standing on a diving board under the sun, throwing his arms up before arching into the air to perform a magnificent backwards somersault.
The move is followed by a neat tuck and a full mid-air twist.
Zeke’s dives have garnered millions of views on TikTok alone. And it didn’t take long before news outlets like ESPN, Barstool Sports, and SportsCenter recognized his talent and shared his videos.
Zeke’s diving clips also get reposted on Instagram, where he has received plenty of praise from internet users.
“It is really phenomenal,” he told the Guardian. “Seeing the positive responses makes me really happy because I think anyone can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Back in 2018, Zeke shared a video of his dive attempt on Instagram, which garnered over 180,000 views. It was picked up by a sports page, but they didn’t tag Zeke. The teen thought it would be cool to get noticed again, so he started posting diving videos again. And this time, his efforts paid off.
“They’ve never really seen a kid like my size able to do something like that before. But I think that if you really want to try and do something, if you put your mind to it, that you could do it,” he told ABC 15 Arizona.
His dad, Freddie Sanchez, is extremely proud of Zeke for breaking stereotypes in his chosen sport.
“People see these really small men or women doing these really great things,” he said. “I don’t think they expect to see someone a larger size doing those things. But Zeke has a lot of heart.”
“The things he does are not easy, it takes a lot of effort … Zeke is very dedicated,” he added. “Not just to sport, but to everything.”
But Zeke’s newfound fame also came with a downside. Critics would make negative comments directed at his body type, but they only push him to do better.
“He is a strong individual and he is able to use it as motivation to keep going,” said Anjanette Sanchez, Zeke’s mother. “I give him a lot of credit for his attitude.”
Although people can be really mean, Zeke chooses to see the positive side.
“I can appreciate the comments,” he said. “Because [they] give me inspiration to keep working harder.”
And with his videos gaining attention worldwide, he hopes dive college coaches take notice.
Zeke started diving at eight years old after a two-week summer program that taught him water sports such as water polo and diving.
“I really really liked it,” he recalled. “I was like, Mom, I don’t want to do water polo. I want to keep diving.”
Zeke currently trains at East Valley Dive Club in Mesa, Arizona, under the guidance of coach Lauren Lopez. So far, he’s enjoying everything.
“I really love the atmosphere and the teammates,” he said. “We always have a lot of fun and we are all really supportive of each other.”
Zeke participated in the 2022 Arizona Regionals, and his next challenge will be a national qualifier. From there, the top 10 divers will move on to nationals. The athlete said he is “super excited” and hopes to make it this year.
Competing in college diving is his “ultimate goal,” but he said it would be “really cool to go to the Olympics too.”
Zeke has received plenty of recognition online, but one comment stood out to him—one from actor Adam Devine.
“I have a new life hero,” commented the “Workaholics” star on an Instagram post.
“I didn’t think I would be someone’s hero. I felt so happy that so many people can see how hard I work, to see what I do,” Zeke said.
This young man is inspiring many, including kids his size and age, who are discouraged from participating in sports. With Zeke dominating his field, they have a role model to look up to.
Click on the video below to learn more about Zeke’s story.
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