Red Dive

I have always enjoyed the Olympics, the winter and summer games. I love seeing so many countries coming together in one place. While I don’t believe in being nationalistic or patriotic to the point that we feel separated and different than other human beings, I understand the emotions involved when athletes win a medal for their country (however provincial and prosaic that sounds). For example, I was born in Italy but grew up in America so I am a citizen for both countries. I have always loved Italy and the USA. I feel better when one of these countries win a gold medal even though it sounds hypocritical. It’s just a lifelong habit I guess.

Anyway, there is one event that I NEVER watch anymore because there is no drama or suspense anymore as to which country will win the gold medal and that is diving thanks to China who’ve won over 70% of the gold medals since the 1984 Summer Games in LA. It is staggering to comprehend the sheer domination that Chinese divers have demonstrated each Olympic competition and there’s no end in sight either. Their divers are getting younger and younger…. for example, the newest champion is a girl who is only 15 years old! This means she will dominate the 10m platform for the next 3 Olympics unless another 15 year old sub-plants her.

I want to make it clear that I am not writing about this as an attack on China because I do not blame them for doing what they’ve done. It was during the domination of American diving legend Greg Louganis that the Chinese started to analyze his performances and preparations for his events which included his dietary habits, his workout routines, his diving techniques and more. They eventually created a system that has pumped out generations of gold medal winning divers. Year after year…. China has won gold and silver. Take a look at the raw numbers…

chinese diving

Important things to note here. Notice how it started modestly enough by winning 1 of 4 and then 2 of 4 thanks to the legendary Greg Louganis. After their espionage and analysis of the champion, China developed a factory that has churned out diving gold medalists in alarming numbers. The total number of events increased in 2000 from 4 to 8 events which only meant more gold for China. Look at the recent games where they nearly swept all medals! 7 of 8, 6 of 8, 7 of 8, 6 of 8…5 of 8, 3 of 4 and so on.

While these overall numbers are staggering at over 71%, a look at the statistics for the women divers is even more mind-blowing!

chinese women divers

The Chinese women divers have won 24 golds in 28 events since 1984! They have swept ALL gold medals in the last 3 Olympics! That’s 12 in a row and 15 of last 16! This is insane, folks. It should be impossible but it is not.

Here are the numbers for the men which pale in comparison to the women but it is still ridiculous if you think about all of the incredible male divers from other countries that have competed against them. The men have won 16 golds in 28 events! That’s more than half…. 57.14%!

chinese male divers

What’s the problem?

Some people have asked me what’s the problem? Who cares if one country has won more medals than others? There obvious examples from other sports always involves the USA in basketball but that is a horrible example. First, it’s because that’s just two events (for men and women teams) and second, the USA did start to lose years ago because the world developed better teams but they used professionals and the USA was still using college kids… so we created the dream team comprised of our professional players from the NBA and we have won every gold medal ever since. Still, the world is slowly catching up and actually competing with the USA and a couple of teams almost defeated team USA (France lost by only 3 points).

Olympic diving has become dull and boring and the ratings reflect this. Everyone knows that the Chinese will win the gold medal and perhaps even Silver. Only once in a blue moon does a Chinese diver not win the gold.

Who’s to Blame?

I am not angry at China as I mentioned previously. I don’t blame them for doing what they’ve done. What bothers me and I contend should disturb others too is the fact that no other country has taken this dominance seriously, this includes the USA, Russia, Mexico, Australia and other countries who have world class divers that could defeat China.

These countries with plenty of naturally talented divers and world class facilities in place should develop new systems similar to China’s in order to first compete with them in all eight events and then ultimately begin to defeat them for the gold. This is not rocket science. This is about establishing a priority and resources to a vision and system to achieve the same objectives that the Chinese diving team has done long ago.

The Future is bleak

I’ve heard some clueless fans make the same statement year after year that “Well, they can’t keep winning them all”… well that is not true. The numbers do not lie! Take a look at them again and stop deluding yourself. Also take notice of the most recent gold and silver winning divers from China at the Rio games. As I mentioned earlier, the gold winner was only 15 which means she will surely only get better and win gold again and again for the next 2 or 3 Olympics. divers

Note: Here’s a piece from 1992 that explains how and why China became so dominant … which involved videotaping and studying everything Greg Louganis did to prepare for Olympic diving.

Also, here’s Greg Louganis talking about why China has become the world power in his sport. He states it’s in the genes… and jokes about it being in the rice which was an attempt at humor…but it’s certainly proven that genetics plays a major part in athletic achievements (i.e. not a coincidence that Kenyan runners dominate long distance running or Jamaicans with short sprints AKA the success of Usaine Bolt).