Hartlepool water-skier Dianne still knows how to make a splash

Dianne Kirby has been competing at a national level since 1968.
Dianne Kirby has been competing at a national level since 1968.

A waterski champion is still making a splash after making an emotional and triumphant return to action.

Dr Dianne Kirby, originally from West Park, Hartlepool, won the over-55 category at the European and African Water-Skiing Championships at the weekend.

When she's not water-skiing, Dianne lectures in American history at the University of Ulster.

When she's not water-skiing, Dianne lectures in American history at the University of Ulster.

The 61-year-old, who has been performing at a national level since 1968, and internationally since 1971, had not competed since the death of her mother Agnes in 2011.

However, she opted to take part in the event, which was open to anyone aged over-35s, and was delighted after being crowned the overall winner after impressing in the three categories of jumping, tricks and slalom.

Dr Kirby, who lectures in American history at the University of Ulster, said: “I won overall, and also got the gold in jumping, and silver in tricks.

“I was delighted. I’m an overall skier, so do all three, and the overall for me is always the most important.

I love the sport with all of my heart and soul

Dr Dianne Kirby

“Some people specialise in a particular discipline, especially slalom.

“It was also a very emotional event for me, because it was my first nationally since the death of my mum.

“She used to come with me to all of my tournaments, and I didn’t really want to continue after she died.

“I decided to enter this event, with it being in England, and I’m sure she would have been as delighted as I was with the outcome.”

Dianne Kirby says that at 61, she loves water-skiing as much as she has ever done..

Dianne Kirby says that at 61, she loves water-skiing as much as she has ever done..

Dr Kirby was introduced to the sport by her dad, Ken, who skied, and she has gone on to win world and European titles.

She loves water-skiing as much now as she has ever done.

She added: “I love the sport with all of my heart and soul.

“I will not give it up – it will give me up eventually!

“You pick up various injuries over the years in this sport, but so far I’ve been lucky to avoid anything major.

“When I’m on the water, it never hurts, but it does when I come off it.

“I think it’s the adrenaline on the water which masks that pain.”