Rival divers feel out of their depth as Chinese stay ahead

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 30 Jul 2021

China's domination of Olympic diving has rivals in Tokyo wondering not just how they can beat them, but also whether the country's approach is desirable or even healthy.

China have more or less cleaned up in Olympic diving over the past 30 years and even though their hopes of winning all eight golds in Tokyo have gone, they can still match the seven from Rio in 2016.

So far they have taken three out of four Tokyo diving titles.

Chinese divers have consistently talked about the hard work they put in and the support from the country's sports authorities.

On Tuesday, China easily won the women's 10m synchronized platform, thanks to two teenagers: Chen Yuxi, 15, and Zhang Jiaqi, 17.

Eden Cheng, who finished seventh of eight for Britain, believes China's success is down to the number of hours that they train. "For them, they don't do much education, they are very focused on their sport," she said. "They do live at the pool."

Other Olympic divers say it is also because China have such a vast selection of talent.

They also believe that the Chinese get into diving at a much earlier age. Chen and Zhang, the teenage Olympic champions, have been diving since they were four. Delaney Schnell, 22, who won silver behind the fearless Chinese pair, began diving at 10.

"But their technique is also unbelievable," she said. "They train technique, technique, technique, and I think that's something that a lot of countries are trying to learn to do."

Patrick Hausding, 32, whose bronze for Germany was his third Olympic medal, is wary of what he believes young Chinese divers can be subjected to. "Hard work and discipline, but probably sometimes under the line of where it's healthy or where it's OK," he said.

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