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Olympics A to Z: The enthralling history of Diving

Published at :June 30, 2021 at 9:30 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy :  olympics)

Gaurav Singh

A number of renowned aquatic stars will be vying for a podium finish at the event in Tokyo.

Diving was first introduced into the Olympic Games at the 1904 Summer Olympics held in St Louis, Missouri, USA. It is one of the four Aquatic sports at the Olympic Games along with Swimming, Water Polo and Synchronized Swimming.

The first Olympic Diving events were solely contested by men. There were two events namely, the Platform Diving event and the Plunge for Distance event. Later, the Springboard event replaced the Plunge for Distance event in 1908 considering the former to be uninteresting. 

Eventually, women's Diving was included in the Olympics for the first time in 1912. It started with the Platform event and later spread to Springboard at the 1920 Olympic Games. However, it was not until the 1928 Olympics that women could perform somersaults or twists at the quadrennial event. 

Moreover, in the same edition, the organizers combined men's Plain Diving and men's Fancy Diving into one event and named it Highboard Diving. The sport went through a lot of changes concerning scoring and various other parameters. 

From 1928 to 1996, it comprised of two events- Platform and Springboard for both men and women. The events contested were the same until Synchronized Diving was added at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This elevated the list of events in the sport to eight (four each for men and women). 

Diving Events 

Athletes require elite fitness to compete in Diving events (credit- popsugar)

Diving covers eight events (four each for men and women) at the Summer Olympics. Both Platform and Springboard Diving involves one or two divers performing somersaults and twists into a pool from a particular height. 

While Platform Diving is from a static platform, Springboard Diving is from a flexible bouncy platform set at a particular height. The techniques used for both events are significantly different. 

Springboard: In this, athletes use a 3m duralumin diving board to generate bounce so that they can perform the acrobatic activity in the air.

Platform: In this, athletes dive from a 10m fixed platform.  

  • 3m Springboard (Men/Women)
  • 10m Platform (Men/Women)
  • Synchronized 3m Springboard (Men/Women)
  • Synchronized 10m Platform (Men/Women)

Strongest Countries in Diving

The United States dominated Diving since the latter's inclusion in the Olympic Games. However, China began to emerge as the powerhouse in the sport during the 1980s. The nation performed well during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Notably, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China won seven out of the eight Gold medals, including all four from the women's event. Interestingly, they repeated the winning streak at the Rio 2016 again by winning seven out of the eight Gold medals. 

However, the USA stills stand atop with a total of 138 Olympic medals (49 Gold, 44 Silver, 45 Bronze), while China stands second winning 69 medals (40 Gold, 19 Silver, 10 Bronze). 

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics promises to be highly competitive with the USA, China, Great Britain and Australia to be a few of the powerhouses. There will be a total of 136 athletes taking part in the competition from different countries. 

Interesting Trivia 

  • The best all-time performing diver at the Olympic Games is female Chinese diver Wu Minxia who won seven medals in total (five Gold) between 2004–2016.
  •  Following her, Pat McCormick (four Gold) and Greg Louganis (four Gold, one Silver) from the USA, alongside China’s Fu Mingxia (four Gold, one Silver) are the other successful divers in Olympic history.

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Tokyo Olympics medal contenders

At the 2019 World Championships, China won nine out of 12 events, making them one of the strongest competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. In the synchronized 10m event, China's double Olympic Gold medalists, Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen are the top contenders. 

Boudia won four Olympic Gold medals (credit- sportsspectrum)

Four-time Olympic Gold medalist, David Boudia will not take part in the Tokyo Olympics. It's a huge blow for the USA in these events. Tyler Downs will take his place in the Diving team. All eyes will be pinned on the youngster.

On the women's side, China's double Olympic Gold medalist,  Shi Tingmao will be a strong contender in the springboard events. In the 10m platform, all eyes would be on Chinese teenager Chen Yuxi, who won the 2019 individual world title.  However, she can face some serious competition from Ren Qian, Lu Wei and Zhang Jiaqi.

The Diving events at the Tokyo Olympics will take place between July 25- August 7, 2021. 

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