Olympic diving preview
This is China's world. The rest of the globe is, well, just a little bit over on the entry. Americans once dominated diving -- U.S. divers won 44 of 60 gold medals between 1924 and 1988 -- but China's surge started quietly in 1984 when the nation won its first diving medals. Soon, it was look out below. The Chinese won seven of eight golds in Beijing in 2008, and it took the highest single dive score in Olympic history for an Australian, Matt Mitcham, to nab the 10-meter platform gold. China, which has won 27 of the past 40 golds, could make it a clean sweep in London.
Check Ladbroke's odds on the Chinese going one-two in the four individual events.
Since Laura Wilkinson's platform gold in Sydney, Americans have not managed an Olympic medal. David Boudia, a platform silver medalist at the 2011 worlds, could break that slump although he faces probably the deepest field of any event. Troy Dumais, a springboard fixture, joins Greg Louganis as the only American male to ever make four Olympic diving teams.
A familiar name on the women's team is platform diver Brittany Viola, although that name probably is better known to baseball fans; her father is Frank Viola, the 1988 American League Cy Young Award winner. Viola, 25, is a first-time Olympian after failing to make the team for Athens and Beijing.
The concluding event, the men's platform, should be the most innately dramatic as Daley, Mitcham, Boudia and Germany's Sascha Klein, among others, try to topple favored Qiu Bo of China. Bo knows diving. In the 2011 FINA Diving World Series, he received 25 perfect 10s. He won two golds at the 2011 worlds and was named male diver of the year. The 19-year-old Bo, who won the test event in London, told reporters, "The biggest challenge is from myself to beat myself." The men's 10-meter encapsulates all the matchups of the competition: China vs. Itself.
Plunge for distance -- how far a diver could propel himself without imparting propulsion from arms or legs after hitting the water -- was an Olympic event in 1904, bowing out after its only appearance in this quadrennial symposium of sweat. (Hint: the competition favored the stout.) William Dickey of the U.S. won the gold medal with a distance of 62' 6". Apparently some Olympic records are not meant to be broken.