Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith win Olympics diving bronze

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Australian diving Olympic bronze medallist Maddison Keeney says her big-stage nerves are behind her - and she wants her critics to know it.

The Kiwi-born talent is only 20 but has already endured the most ghastly of ordeals in big competitions.

A stutter and fall off the springboard cost her a medal at the 2015 world titles, the video becoming a YouTube hit.

A year earlier, she baulked at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to lose out on gold.

But as a smiling Keeney stood by the pool in Rio with a medal on debut around her neck, there wasn't an ounce of angst.

"I want to silence the critics a bit about my nerves,"

Keeney said after she and springboard partner Anabelle Smith claimed bronze in the 3m synchro.

"I think the media just blows that a bit out of proportion.

"I have had lots of problems in the last, but I think I've grown a lot as a diver over the last couple of years and months, and I'm ready.

"I thought I would be way more nervous than this, but I loved every moment of being out there."

The statement was as strong as that of national coach Chava Sobrino, who two weeks ago named Keeney as Australia's diving X-factor.

She admitted that did touch the nerves a little.

"I just try my best," she said.

"I'm a bit of a nightmare sometimes at training - I'm a perfectionist in the pool, I can never settle for less than my best.

"In a way that's a really good thing for me because I can keep pushing myself.

"I want to be the best."

Lagging in last spot with three dives to go, there were plenty of reasons why Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith should not have clinched an Olympic medal in Rio.

Even when they'd clawed back to fifth in the women's 3m synchro final, they needed something special in their final dive to live up to their billing as genuine podium contenders.

What followed was a forward two and a half somersault one twist pike, securing a best score of 71.10 to propel the pair from fifth to third.

"It's crazy because we both thought our last dive wasn't that good," said London Olympian Smith. "Like I felt really far forward and I came up thinking `Oh, I'm going to be so much further out than Maddie.

"But she said the same thing so I was like `Oh, that worked out well'.

"Our coaches are unbelievable, they've always got hope and they've always got faith," said Keeney.

"They cheered us on and said 'Don't worry about it, just focus on this next dive', and that's what we did."

Keeney will contest the preliminary round of the women's individual 3m springboard on Friday.