Updated: Monday, 19 March 2012 16:43 | By pa.press.net

DIVING

One of the most technical and eye-catching sports around, diving has traditionally kept spectators on the edge of their seats at the Olympics.


A diver prepares for action. (© Press Association)

A diver prepares for action.

Diving

One of the most technical and eye-catching sports around, diving has traditionally kept spectators on the edge of their seats at the Olympics.

At Seoul 1988, American Greg Louganis famously recovered to win gold after hitting his head on the diving board and falling unconscious into the pool while last time out, at Beijing 2008, Australian Matthew Mitcham produced four perfect 10s with a brilliant final dive to claim a dramatic victory in the 10m platform competition and deny hosts China a clean sweep of the medals.

While spectators are often enthralled, it is the judges who divers really strive to impress, with a panel at poolside assessing elements such as the degree of difficulty, approach, take-off, execution and entry into the water before deciding on a final score.

In both the three-metre springboard and 10m platform events, athletes execute a series of different dives, with varying degrees of difficulty, in order to show their skill level and technique.

As the sport has developed, so have the lengths to which competitors will go to impress the judges, with combinations of high-tariff spins, flips and twists increasing the overall score.

Diving - which developed from gymnastics in the 18th century - was first known as 'fancy diving' at the Olympics in St Louis in 1904 but, as more individual events were added to the programme, the sport began to resemble the technical discipline that we know today.

The final step came with synchronised diving events being added to the schedule for the first time at Sydney 2000.

At the Olympics, individual and synchronised events at both three metres and 10m are staged for men and women, with a maximum of two divers from each country competing in the individual events and one pairing from each nation in the synchronised events.

Each diver or pair performs a series of different dives during qualifying in order to progress to the final, where they receive a further six attempts to decide the medals.

China has been the leading nation in diving in recent years, especially after taking the first clean sweep of gold medals at a World Championships in almost 30 years when dominating in Shanghai last year.

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