What/Where/When: Diving, Aquatics Center, July 29-August 11
In the past 20 years, one word has been synonymous with Olympic Diving: China. The country’s diving teams are like the Great Wall of China that other countries could rarely topple. Perhaps 2012 is the year that will change. Or not.
China has been dominating diving since the retirement of Greg Louganis–and even when he was still competing, China was a strong performer. It was at the 1984 Olympics that China emerged as a diving powerhouse. Since then, other nations have rarely been able to move past them into a gold medal position, instead settling for silver or bronze.
China excels at any sport that incorporates acrobatics. They’re masters in aerial skiing, artistic gymnastics, figure skating, trampoline, and diving. They are technically precise, which is why they always do well.
China’s He Chong is returning to the Olympics to try for another gold in men’s springboard diving. I have no doubt he’ll be successful. Yet if he isn’t, it will probably be because he’s beaten by his teammate Qin Kai, who also is a veteran from the 2008 Games. Ethan Warren is a dark horse that I’ll be cheering for. Warren has one of those great stories I love. As a child, he was behind in his development, and some doctors said he would never play sports. And now Ethan Warren is not only an accomplished diver, but competing in the Olympics as a possible medalist! In women’s springboard China’s Wu Minxia or He Zi will most likely finish on top, but right behind them are several divers hoping to grab bronze: Tania Cagnotto of Italy and Christina Loukas of the United States.
Platform is the favorite diving event for me. Here again we find China at the top of the world rankings, with Qiu Bo and Chen Ruoling highly favorites for gold in men’s and women’s platform. Yet Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain have divers who are so talented, it’s mind-boggling to consider their potential yet untapped.
Matthew Mitcham may have already won gold in 2008 with a major upset over the Chinese, but at only 24, one has to wonder if he’s yet to reach his best. His dives are breathtaking, his form exquisite. Just as equally incredible is Tom Daley, on whom Great Britain is placing much pressure. Remember the pint-sized lad who stunned everyone in Beijing? Daley’s back to compete in home waters, but enters the games only ranked fourth in the world. He’ll also no doubt be thinking his father could be there to watch. Rob Daley passed away in 2011 after a long battle with brain cancer. The elder Daley was a constant presence at his son’s diving competition, a vocal supporter.
In women’s platform, China is most likely the one to win gold, with Chen Ruoling its best diver. Her closest competitor is another Chinese diver, Hu Yadan. But Canada’s Roseline Filion and Mexico’s Paola Espinosa could very well find themselves winning bronze.
With Australia, Canada, China, Great Britain, Mexico, and United States all representing themselves so well in individual diving, they’ll also be strong contenders in synchronized diving. Add into the mix both Germany and Russia, there’s no question that men’s and women’s synchronized diving events will be quite exciting!
Faster, Higher, Stronger