swimming and diving


swimming and diving
China is the world’s undisputed powerhouse of springboard and platform diving. With disciplined elegance, technical finesse and explosive style, Chinese men and women perennially sweep competitions in the sport. Chinese swimming, on the other hand, has been a source of great embarrassment, with outstanding performances by women in the first half of the 1990s irretrievably tainted by drug scandals.
Chinese women won three gold swimming medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and took an astonishing twelve of sixteen golds at the 1994 world championships, but suspicions proved justified when seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for drug use at the 1994 Asian Games and four more were caught at the 1998 world champion-ships. One of China’s top female swimmers was found with human growth hormones in her luggage. In all, some three dozen Chinese swimmers have tested positive for banned substances over the past two decades.
Despite government resolve and considerable effort to clean up the sport, the repercussions of the scandal linger. Nevertheless, China shows continued strength in women’s swimming and respectable results among the men. In the 2002 Asian Games, Chinese men and women won twenty swimming events.
In diving, meanwhile, Chinese athletes are unstoppable; they took five of eight gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and all twelve golds, as well as men’s and women’s team titles, at the 2001 university games. Internationally, Russia and the USA provide some serious competition to China’s dominance in diving—but Chinese divers’ main rivals are each other. The near-legendary spring-board diva Fu Mingxia, who earned a record fourth Olympics title at Sydney, has retired and married a Hong Kong businessman. But a new generation of young divers is upholding the tradition. With Tian Liang’s victory in the men’s 10-metre platform at the 2002 Asian Games, China has added to its record by taking every diving gold for the last six Asiads.
JUDY POLUMBAUM

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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