Great diving performance in Tokyo Olympics

Diving, like gymnastics, involves a lot of acrobatics in the air and it takes place too quickly for me to be able to judge it in real time, which tells you something about how difficult it must be to judge the event. The only indicator I have for how good it is at the very end. In the case of gymnastics, it is the landing. In the case of diving, it is how small a splash the diver makes upon entry into the water. In the Tokyo Olympics Chinese diver Quan Hongchan broke all manner of records with her gold-medal winning performance. Even an ignorant observer like me could tell that she was spectacular.

She is only 14 and looks tiny. What is remarkable is that Olympic rules require divers to be at least 14 by the end of the year in which the Olympics are held. If the Tokyo Olympics had not been postponed due to the pandemic, she would not have been eligible because her 14th birthday was this past March. She dedicated her performance to her sick mother that she supports.

Just as Nadia Comaneci’s gold medal performance in the 1976 Olympics resulted in the sudden move to have female gymnasts be very young and small, this performance may do the same for diving. I hope that it does not lead to the same kinds of abusive practices we have seen with gymnastics. I suspect that diving is not as hard on the body as gymnastics, so there’s that.

This video explains the physics of getting a small splash upon entry.

(Via David Pescovitz)


  1. kestrel says

    I must admit a “gold-medal sinning performance” would be interesting and I’d probably watch that video, but pretty sure you meant “winning”. So easy to do, the keys are right next to each other…

    That was an amazing performance. It must have taken a lot of hard work to get to that level. Very beautiful to watch too.

    [I had to correct the error, unfortunately -- Mano]

  2. garnetstar says

    Who was it who first told a child who was less than 14 years old to get up on a three-stories-tall platform and dive in headfirst? How young was she when she started training on that? Yuck.

    She’s not doing the most difficult dives yet, specifically not the infamous Dive of Death. Let us hope that she is at least 15 before she starts training that.

    She does have one thing in common with the GOAT, though, who was Greg Louganis: both of them are so good that their dives somehow managed to look as if they’re in slow motion. That’s why Mano can see these dives: with Louganis as well, he looked like he was moving more slowly and all the dive twists, etc., could be seen.

    Louganis was so good that, at most of his international competitions, by the last dive he was so far ahead that he didn’t even need to do the dive to win. He could score all zeros on it and he’d still win. This young girl may well be heading for that.

    Because of the rip entry, most divers retire when they sustain too much nerve damage in their wrists. I hope, again, that this girl is at least 15 before that happens.

  3. Holms says

    Unavailable in Australia, thanks IOC.

    #2 nomenexrecto
    Watch out! This sort of comment is a surefire way to cop an earful from Rob Grigjanis, valiant defender of the honour of soccer… He’ll probably show you how tough tough tough modern soccer is by giving you some names and events from 30+ years ago to look up.

  4. John Morales says

    Holms, supposedly unavailable. Easy enough to bypass.

    It’s from NBC sports, the IOC is just the wholesaler. So blame NBC.

    I briefly checked it out, but I have no interest in diving.
    As Mano noted, the skill is obvious.

    (Doesn’t just look tiny, looks pre-pubescent)

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