London Spy

Sport guide: Diving

London Spy

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Greg Louganis got things spectacularly and painfully wrong in 1988 when he launched himself into the air at the Seoul Olympics and cracked his head on the springboard on his way into the pool.

Remarkably, the American recovered to qualify for the final and take the gold medal, adding the gold for platform diving the following week and repeating his double success of Los Angeles 1984. Louganis had already won a silver in the platform competition in Montreal, and we can only guess how he would have fared if the United States had taken part in Moscow.

The Olympic diving schedule of springboard and platform contests for men and women was established in Amsterdam in 1928, although the sport made its first appearance in 1904 as a "fancy diving" competition.

The number of events was doubled from 2000 with the addition of men's and women's synchronised diving for springboard and platform, and these will form the programme in London.

The springboard stretches over the pool at a height of 3m and must be at least 4.8m long and 50cm wide. The platform stands 10m high and should be 6m long and 3m wide. In awarding a score out of 10 for each dive the judges take into account the degree of difficulty, and in the pairs event the level of synchronisation.

Pat McCormick of the United States was the first diver to win four gold medals, taking the women's springboard and platform titles in 1952 and 1956. Sammy Lee won the men's platform gold for the United States in 1948 and 1952 and coached Bob Webster to similar success in 1960 and 1964.

China dominates in the modern arena, with five golds out of eight in Sydney, six in Athens and seven in Beijing, where Guo Jingjing took her total of Olympic medals to six, including four golds.

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