Skip to main content

Rio Olympics diving in review: China quickly closing medal gap with USA

China Olympic Diving Fans Celebrating
USA Today Sports Images

Rio Olympics diving in review: China quickly closing medal gap with USA

China failed to achieve its goal of sweeping all eight diving events at the Rio Games, but not by much

The Olympic diving slate at the Rio Games is now complete with China taking gold in seven of the eight events. 

China has undoubtedly become the epicenter of competitive diving this century with 31 gold medals in 40 diving events since the 2000 Sydney Games.

Historically, though, the diving crown still belongs to the United States. Since diving was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1904, USA leads the world with 138 medals (49 gold, 42 silver, 44 bronze).

However, China is up to 69 total medals and is quickly closing the gap. They've outpaced the U.S. in the medal race 31-7 over the last three Olympic Games, including the 10 medals they earned in Rio.

Here's a quick look back at all the action at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center from this year's 2016 Rio Olympic Games…


China -- 10 (7 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze)
Great Britain -- 3 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
USA -- 3 (2 silver, 1 bronze)
Italy -- 2 (1 silver, 1 bronze)
Canada -- 2 (2 bronze)
Mexico -- 1 (silver)
Malaysia -- 1 (silver)
Australia -- 1 (bronze)
Germany -- 1 (bronze)


Gold -- Wu Minxia & Shi Tingmao (China)
Silver -- Tania Cagnotto & Francesca Dallapé (Italy)
Bronze -- Maddison Keeney & Anabelle Smith (Australia)

Wu Minxia makes history as China wins gold in women's synchronized 3m springboard

Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao earned China the first diving gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics Sunday afternoon

Read More +

Team USA's Abby Johnston referred to China's Wu Minxia as "diving queen." After the Rio Olympics, it's a an appropriate title. Wu took ownership of five Olympic records with her gold medal in the first diving event of the Rio Olympics -- most diving gold medals by an individual in Olympic history, most Olympic diving medals won by a woman, oldest woman to win an Olympic diving gold medal, most Olympic Games with a diving medal, and most gold medals in the same Olympic diving event.

The battle for bronze came down to the final dive. Australia's Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith, who were in last after the first two rounds, stormed back to place third to secure the bronze medal, narrowly edging Canada's Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware by just 0.87 points.

Brazilian 35-year-old diving icon Juliana Veloso made her final Olympic appearance in front of the hometown crowd.

No Americans qualified for the event.


Gold -- Chen Aisen & Lin Yue (China)
Silver -- David Boudia & Steele Johnson (USA)
Bronze -- Thomas Daley & Daniel Goodfellow (GBR)

China wins gold in men's synchronized platform; USA claims silver

It was a strong showing for USA's David Boudia and Steele Johnson in the men's synchronized platform, but not enough to compete with China

Read More +

Chen Aisen and Lin Yue set an Olympic record on their way to the gold, amassing 496.98 points. The pair received a number of 10s from the judges in both execution and synchronization for their fifth dive -- a forward 4.5 somersault that earned them 106.56 points.

American's David Boudia and Steele Johnson turned in a strong performance to score 457.11 points and secure the silver medal.

The silver is the highest the United States has ever placed in the event, marking the first career medal for 20-year-old American Johnson in his first event and third career medal for Boudia.


Gold -- Chen Ruolin & Liu Huixia (China)
Silver -- Pandelela Rinong Pamg & Cheong Jun Hoong (Malaysia)
Bronze -- Meaghan Benfeito & Roseline Filion (Canada)

China stays perfect with third diving gold medal; history for Chen Ruolin

China's bid for an eight-discipline diving sweep stayed alive on Tuesday with a gold medal in the women's synchronized 10m platform

Read More +

The day the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center diving well infamously turned green, China's Chen Ruolin matched her countrywoman Wu Minxia in the history books with the most diving gold medals in Olympic history. 

Rio diving pool changes color from blue to green overnight

Green, not gold, was the color of the day at the Olympic diving venue in Rio de Janeiro

Read More +

Chen's path to greatness is wildly impressive. The 23-year-old is five-for-five, winning gold in every Olympic event in which she has competed.

Americans Amy Cozad and Jessica Parratto, who were each competing in their first career Olympic event, finished in seventh place.


Gold -- Jack Laugher & Chris Mears (Great Britan)
Silver -- Sam Dorman & Mike Hixon (USA)
Bronze -- Cao Yuan & Qin Kai (China)

Great Britain wins gold to spoil China's synch streak; USA takes silver

An eight-discipline diving sweep is out for China after Great Britain's strong program Wednesday in the men's synchronized 3m springboard

Read More +

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears stuck a wrench in China's plans for total domination in Olympic diving with an impressive program to win Great Britain's first ever Olympic diving gold.

USA's Michael Hixon and Sam Dorman put together a clean 450.21-point list to place second and earn the silver medal, finishing higher than the United States ever has in the men's synchronized 3m springboard. (Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen won bronze in 2012.)

China's Cao Yuan and Qin Kai, who led after the first two rounds and were the favorites going into the event, posted a total of 443.70 points for bronze.


Gold -- Shi Tingmao (China)
Silver -- He Zi (China)
Bronze -- Tania Cagnotto (Italy)

China takes gold and silver in women's individual 3m springboard

The competition got quite a bit stiffer Sunday in the women's individual 3m springboard final with medals on the line

Read More +

Shi Tingmao, the favorite entering the event, was clean from start to finish for 406.05 points and the gold medal. Countrywoman He Zi comfortably took silver with 387.90 points.

Behind the two Chinese divers, Canada's Jennifer Abel and Italy's Tania Canotto went back and forth for third with the Italian emerging at the end to secure the bronze medal.

USA's Abby Johnston placed sixth in the preliminary and fifth in the semifinal, but she did not perform as well in the final and finished in 12th place.

The women's 3m final wasn't the only highlight at the diving pool on Aug. 14. A pair of Chinese divers took the plunge as Qin Kai proposed to He Zi.

Chinese diver He Zi wins silver in 3m, gold in love with marriage proposal

Winning a silver medal wasn't the top highlight of Sunday, Aug. 14 for Chinese diver He Zi

Read More +


Gold -- Cao Yuan (China)
Silver -- Jack Laugher (Great Britain)
Bronze -- Patrick Hausding (Germany)

China's Cao Yuan dominates men's 3m for gold; no medals for USA

China has now captured five gold medals in six diving events as Cao Yuan never trailed in the men's 3m springboard final on Tuesday

Read More +

The men's 3m springboard seemed wide open after reigning World champion He Chao of China was eliminated in the prelims and reigning Olympic champion Ilya Zakharov of Russia -- after a brutal belly flop -- was eliminated in the semifinal.

But 21-year-old Cao Yuan made sure it was anything but, leading from start to finish with a dominant program to take the gold.

Great Britain's Jack Laugher took silver and Germany's Patrick Hausding, after finishing fourth in his two previous Rio diving events, finally cracked the podium and won bronze.

For the first time since 2000, the United States placed two competitors in the top 10 of the men's 3m final as Kristian Ipsen -- who performed the difficult "triple out" -- placed fifth and Mike Hixon placed 10th.


Gold -- Ren Qian (China)
Silver -- Si Yajie (China)
Bronze -- Meaghan Benfeito (Canada)

China's 15-year-old Ren Qian wins gold in women's 10m; USA misses podium

Seven of the eight diving events in the 2016 Rio Games have now concluded with China taking gold in all but one

Read More +

Ren Qian is just 15 years old, but she showed all the poise and confidence of a veteran in the women's individual 10m platform event, comfortably winning gold ahead of countrywomen Si Yajie, 17, who took silver.

USA's Jessica Parratto placed third in the prelim and second in the semifinal, but endured a number of miscalculated entries in the final and settled for a 10th-place finish in her first career individual Olympic event.


Gold -- Chen Aisen (China)
Silver -- German Sanchez (Mexico)
Bronze -- David Boudia (USA)

Double gold for China's Chen; Boudia earns 10m bronze for USA

The blue ribbon event of the Rio Olympics diving slate lived up to its billing as the men's 10m final gold came down to the final dive

Read More +

China's Qiu Bo was the favorite going in and he authored a perfect dive in the final, receiving 10s from all seven judges, but his inconsistencies left the door open.

And countryman Chen Aisen stormed right through for his second 10m gold of the Rio Games.

USA's David Boudia, the defending gold medalist from London, performed well. When the pool calmed, he sat in third place behind Chen and Mexico's German Sanchez to secure bronze, the second medal of his Rio Games and third of his career.

Young American diver Steele Johnson, in his first career individual Olympic event, placed 18th in the prelim and just barely qualified for the semifinal, where he wasn't as lucky and finished 13th -- one spot off of qualifying for the final. Still, it was a strong first Olympcs for the 20-year-old, who will take home a synchro silver medal and plenty of motivation for 2020.


It was the storyline that no one expected in the Rio Olympics. Divers showed up to the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center on Tuesday, Aug. 9, and beheld a unique sight. The water in the diving well, a pristine azure blue the day before, turned a murky green.

The reason wasn't forthcoming, but officials vowed to fix the problem overnight.

That didn't happen and divers dubbed the pool "The Swamp." 

Internet reacts to murky green water in Rio's diving pool

The Rio diving pool's dramatic shift from azure blue to murky green is spurring plenty of reaction on social media

Read More +

Finally, four days after the color change on Saturday, Rio 2016 director of venue management Gustavo Nascimento and Rio 2016 Organizing Committee executive director Mario Andrada held a press conference to set the record straight. Apparently one of their contractors dumped 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide in the pool, which neutralized the chroline's ability to keep the water clear.

Rio officials come clean, detail 'failure' that turned pools green

The color of the water at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center has a prominent storyline, but now we know what really happened

Read More +

After a day with no diving on Aug. 11, the water was back to a smoky blue color on Aug. 12. Two days later, the clear blue color began to return.

The water was never unsafe for the divers. In fact, many divers indicated that the green water actually made diving easier as it provided starker contrast for the divers to pick up their visual cues.

Divers could benefit from green water; officials treat for alkalinity

Rio officials believe they have a bead drawn on the color change in the diving well, which could actually be a detriment to the divers

Read More +

Still, officials were clear that the failure on their part was an embarrassing blemish on the Rio Games execution.

More from {{firstLevel.more_from}}




See More Coverage

More from {{secondLevel.more_from}}



More from Olympics