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Olympic Spotlight – Diving

 

 

 

For the final part of Tianjin Plus’ countdown to the London Olympics, we’ve saved arguably China’s strongest suit till last. This month’s Olympic Spotlight focuses on Team China’s diving prospects.

 

Simply put, China dominates the diving pool in international competition, and has done for many years. Their diving squad is considered to be stronger now than it was four years ago when it swept seven of the eight diving gold medals on offer. The men’s 10m platform event was the only blot on the program four years ago in Beijing, and with Qiu Bo leading China in that discipline this year, that’s highly unlikely to happen again. 

 

China’s present dominance of the sport was exemplified best by its clean sweep of all ten medals at last year’s World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, the first time a nation has accomplished such a feat.

 

China’s diving team has been described in the international press as a finely-tuned machine, which offers up little hope for their rivals in London this year. Along with table tennis, badminton and shooting, diving is one of China’s traditional strong suits, and a clean sweep of the golds is expected this year.

 

China currently has the men's and women's world number ones in Zhang Jike and Ding Ning respectively. In fact, Chinese divers are ranked number one in the world in every diving discipline.

 

The only gold medal China didn’t take back in ’08 was the 10m platform. Cue the emergence of a diving superstar in the making; Qiu Bo. The 19-year-old Sichuan-native has emerged in the last two years to dominate the 10m events. 

 

Standing in Bo’s way to taking that final gold in London will be the home crowd hero Tom Daley, who has produced the best diving of his career in the run up to this year’s Games, and Australian Matthew Mitcham who produced a near flawless dive in Beijing four years ago to deny China the clean sweep the home crowd was expecting. Injury has hindered Mitcham’s preparations this time round minimising his prospects of a repeat performance in London, meaning it’s set to be an intriguing two-horse race between Daley and Qiu. One glimmer of hope for Daley is that young Qiu has been known to wilt under pressure in recent years, most notably when Daley pulled off one of the upsets of the World Championships three years ago to wrestle the gold from the Chinese.

 

As well as Daley and Mitcham, there are other potential dark horses in the 10m field making it one of the most open events in the diving pool this year, and the event most other countries’ will view as their best chance of a diving upset.

 

The host nation will be hoping that the home crowd can inspire Daley and its team of 11 other divers to glory, just as it did for the Chinese four years ago.

 

China’s women are equally as strong as the men’s team, and are also strongly fancied to take a clean sweep. 

 

Wu Minxia is one of China’s brightest prospects, and she will compete in the 3m springboard event, a discipline in which China has landed the gold medal for the last six Olympics. Wu has spent the early part of her career playing second fiddle to Chinese diving legend Guo Jingjing who retired in 2011.

 

Women’s platform Olympic champion Chen Ruolin is another star of Team China who is expected to shine in London.

 

China’s dominance on the sport could become absolute in London, where they’ll be heavy favourites to take all eight golds.

 

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

China hadn’t won an Olympic medal in diving prior to the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, USA.

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

The diving events at the London Olympics will take place at the newly constructed London Aquatics Centre which cost a staggering 2.7-billion yuan to build.

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

Legendary American diver Greg Louganis struck his head on the board during the qualifying rounds of the springboard event at the 1988 Games suffering a concussion, yet still went on to secure two gold medals.

 

 

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