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The U.S. Loses its Grip

Balance of Power Shifts to China


Fu Mingxia performs in Syndey.

Fu Mingxia performs in Syndey.

Photo: Sean Garnsworthy /Allsport

Prior to 1984, China had not won an Olympic medal in diving. But during the time leading up to those Los Angeles Games, the Chinese had been studying the sport with an eye toward rectifying that situation. Their primary teacher, Greg Louganis.

Considered by many to be the greatest diver of all-time, Louganis was a study in perfection and the Chinese watched every move he made. The Chinese learned, and learned well. Their technical improvement became apparent in Los Angeles where they won three medals. At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, they showed that they had learned to compete as well and earned five medals, two of them gold.

Since their first medal in 1984, the success of the Chinese in diving in the Olympics has been staggering. Chinese divers have won 20 out of a possible 32 golds, and 38 out of 96 possible medals. They have won the last six women’s springboard titles and the last three men’s springboard golds. On platform, the men have captured the last two, and three of the last four gold medals. In the new discipline of synchronized diving China has won five of the eight gold medals awarded.

The only event in which the Chinese could be accused of falling short is women’s platform. The past two platform titles have been won by an American and Australian with China picking up silver in both events. After winning the gold in platform from 1984 to 1996, I guess it was time to share the wealth!

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