Wu Minxia: 3m individual/synchronised springboard

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am


The United States is the most successful diving nation in Olympic history: it tops the all-time medals table with a total of 131 (48 gold, 41 silver and 42 bronze).

China is a distant second, with 49 medals: 27 gold, 14 silver and eight bronze; Sweden lies third with 14 (six, eight and seven).

Yet such figures are misleading, for China is the dominant diving force: it has won all its Olympic diving medals since 1984, when it ended a boycott of the Games that started with the 1952 Olympics.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, mainland divers won 11 out of a possible 24 medals, including seven of the eight gold medals in the four men's and four women's events: 3m springboard, synchronised 3m springboard, 10m platform and synchronised 10m platform. Australia's Matt Mitcham won that one elusive gold medal in the men's 10m platform event.

Double Olympic champion Guo Jingjing, 30 - the mainland's most successful women's Olympic diver, with four gold and two silver medals - retained her individual and synchronised 3m titles at the 2008 Games. She has since retired, but her former synchronised 3m partner, Wu Minxia, an individual 3m bronze medallist in Beijing behind Guo - will compete in both events in London from July 29.

Wu, 26, won both the individual 3m and - with new partner He Zi - the synchronised 3m world titles last year, and is tipped for Olympic gold. Chen Ruolin, who won both women's 10m platform events in Beijing, will defend her titles, too.

The mainland also hopes to dominate the men's events. Qiu Bo, 19, the 2011 world champion in both 10m events, is likely to be closely challenged by Olympic champion Mitcham, 24, and Tom Daley, 18, Britain's in-form, 2009 individual 10m world champion.

Diving made its Olympic debut in 1904, when it featured two men's events: 10m platform diving, or 'fancy high diving'; and plunge for distance - like a diving 'long-jump', where competitors made a standing, poolside dive, and had to go as deep as possible without using their arms or legs. Women's diving was introduced in 1912, and synchronised diving in 2000.

Divers tell judges what they will perform beforehand and are marked on their starting position, take-off, the dive itself and entry. They try to enter the water vertically, with as little splash as possible. Synchronised diving is marked on technique and also on how closely the divers move in harmony.

Divers gain higher points if they successfully complete difficult dives; they can score zero if they take too long, or change a planned dive.

Four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis, of the US, hit his head competing at the 1988 Games, but still won 3m individual gold.