Olympic medalist previews diving events
Posted: Thursday July 23, 1998 05:49 PM
Cynthia Potter, a 28-time National Champion, was a member of four Olympic teams and won a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics. She covered the 1990 and 1994 Goodwill Games for Turner Sports, and will handle Diving analysis during this week's competition.
By Cynthia Potter
NEW YORK (CNN/SI) -- The bright spot and future for United States diving is 18 year old Troy Dumais who won the 3-meter silver medal at the World Championships this past January. He will be a freshman at the University of Texas in the fall and I think this is the best move he could have made. He has lived in California all his life, training with his brothers and sisters every day, and it will be good for him to have a change of venue where he can concentrate on his own training away from the distractions of family.
Despite his success, he is not at the top of his game and there are many areas that he can improve in, particularly on the platform. He needs to develop his finesse more and be more consistent in his optional dives. In the past he would train for a couple weeks and be sidelined by an injury or an illness. It is difficult to know what to expect from him if he isn't training constantly. To be a world-class diver you need to train twice-a-day, 5-6 days a week. If Troy can stay with a program, expect even greater things out of him.
Erica Sorgi is such a wonderful story. We have actually been able to document how she has progressed in the sport in such a healthy and rapid manner. Her coach, Hong Ping Lee, has used all the knowledge and wisdom he has gathered in China with her. He has taken the time to prepare Erica, not only physically but mentally and she has been very receptive to his teachings. He didn't push her into more difficult dives or onto the platform before she was ready.
Her success in such a short time has been astonishing. At 14, just after the Atlanta Olympics, she won the Nationals on the springboard. Now at 16 she is poised to win both the springboard and the platform in mahor competitions. She was second at a recent international meet in Ft. Lauderdale and gave the Chinese diver who won a run for her money. This will be just her fourth platform competition and we may be surprised at how good she does....that is how rapid her development has been.
Keep an eye on young Sang Xue of China, an animated, fun, tiny diver competing in her first international competition. She was a good friend of the injured gymnast Sang Lan and her composure and maturity in the face of this has been amazing. She was only 5th at the Chinese nationals and the Chinese dropped the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place divers to bring Sang Xue here for this event. That shows the expectations that they have for her at Sydney.
I love the synchronized diving competition. A synchronized exhibition has been a part of every diving show going back to the Aqua Follies in the 50's and it is finally making it's way into major competitions. It is a much more relaxed event without the normal etiquette normally seen in the sport. The crowd is encouraged to cheer, music is played in the background and the divers aren't as nervous.
The event goes quickly, only five dives for both men and women and the audience can understand the scoring better. In single diving there are many nuances that the average fan doesn't pick up on. With the synchronization of the two divers people can clearly see why judges give the scores that they do. It also opens up diving to a lot more countries and divers who may not have the expertise to compete in the single events. It was a huge success at the World Championships in Australia earlier this year and I think it is time to add this event to the Olympics to expand the entertainment value of our sport.
Diving has now gotten to a new place with competitors allowed to invent dives and be rated on a formula for the degree of difficulty. You are going to see a lot more creativity in the dives.... backward handstands, even gymnastic-like run-ups with handsprings and such.
A lot of the advances depend on better equipment, but it's hard to say how better the equipment can get. Where a 2 1/2 somersault off the springboard used to be the norm, now it's 3 1/2 going into a tuck and a pike. With a good sense of timing and rhythm you can get more moves and twists into a short dive.
This is exciting, but I don't want the development of the sport to be at the expense of the simplicity that makes diving such a wonderful sport. There is still nothing more beautiful than seeing someone hold a basic front dive off the platform.
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