Dates: July 29-Aug. 11
Venue: Olympic Park Aquatics Centre
Medal Events: 8
There are two kinds of diving events (individual and synchronized) and two types of boards (a 3m springboard and a 10m fixed platform).
Each dive is scored by a panel of judges on a scale of 10 and multiplied by a pre-determined degree of difficulty, so athletes must weigh the risk-reward factor before submitting their dives.
In the synchro events, pairs of divers are judged on both their execution and synchronization.
Judges consider myriad factors from the starting position through the entry into the water but, in general, the smaller the splash, the better the score.
Canadians To Watch
Alexandre Despatie burst onto the international scene as a 13-year-old in 1998 when he won gold in the 10-metre platform at the Commonwealth Games. Since then, he’s captured three world titles in three separate events (platform, 1m springboard, 3m springboard) and back-to-back Olympic silver medals in the 3m springboard in 2004 and ’08.
Health has been a concern of late for Despatie. Knee problems kept him out of the 2011 world championships and nearly cost the Laval, Que., native a chance at competing in his fourth (and likely final) Olympic Games. But in his last shot to qualify, Despatie came through with a strong performance at a World Cup event in London to secure spots in the 3m individual and synchro (with teammate Reuben Ross). Despatie hopes to be fully recovered from the concussion and nasty cut he suffered in mid-June when he smacked his head on the board while training for an event in Spain.
Montreal’s Emilie Heymans is trying to become the first women’s diver to win a medal in four consecutive Olympics. Her best hope is in the 3m synchro with teammate Jennifer Abel. The pair took silver at last year’s world championships in Shanghai, where Abel also captured a bronze in the individual event, boosting her own profile as a individual medal contender in London.
On the platform, Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito have been consistent synchro podium finishers this season on tour, but they finished seventh at the 2011 worlds. Benfeito came closer to the podium in the solo event, placing fourth while Filion finished eighth.
International Athletes To Watch
Ten diving gold medals were awarded at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai. All 10 went to Chinese divers. Home cooking? Maybe, but China went 7-for-10 in 2009 in Rome (not to mention 7-for-8 at the Beijing Olympics. He Chong heads to London as the reigning Olympic and world champion in the men’s 3m springboard, while Chen Roulin holds the same distinctions on both the individual and synchro platform.
Four years ago, England’s Tom Daley appeared to be on track for stardom at his home London Games when he finished seventh in the 10m platform in Beijing as a 14-year-old, then won world championship gold a year later. But Daley missed the podium at the 2011 worlds shortly after his father died of brain cancer, and his work ethic was questioned this season by British team coach Alexei Evangulov, who compared Daley to underachieving tennis starlet Anna Kournikova.
Canada’s Medal Outlook
Diving Canada said it would be “quite satisfied” with two medals. But, given its lack of gold-medal favourites and now the injury to Alex Despatie, one medal wouldn't be a bad showing. With Despatie in the twilight of his career, Canada needs the podium-fringe group of Emilie Hemans, Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion to come through with big performances if it's going to get multiple medals. Heymans is the only one in that set who owns a world title, and that came nine years ago.