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Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics: Part 2

2021-08-02
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For our second Olympic blog post series, we are featuring synchronized diving. Out of the four events at the Tokyo Games, Team China claimed three gold medals and one silver medal, and Team USA earned two silver medals.

In a near-perfect performance, Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi of China made an outstanding Olympic comeback in the men’s synchronized 3m springboard. Michael Hixon and Andrew Capobianco of the U.S. replicated an Olympic silver in the event finishing with the best somersault score. On the women’s side, the youngest competitors of the event, Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi, dominated the synchronized 10m platform. Team USA’s Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell finished in second place, securing the first American medal in that event.

Wang Zongyuan & Xie Siyi:

(Right to left) Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi of China pose with their national flag after winning the men’s 3m springboard on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. [Photo credit: China Daily]

Wang, first-time Olympian at 19 years old, comes from Xiangyang, Hubei. He started diving at age seven after switching from gymnastics. From the start, Wang had tremendous success, winning a panoply of medals at world championships in the springboard events. Prior to Tokyo, his most prominent achievements included winning the 1m springboard title at the 18th FINA World Championships and the 3m springboard at the 2019 FINA Diving Grand Prix.

At 25, Xie has a wide breadth of experience in the sport. He was born in Shantou, Guangdong, and like his partner, he has won numerous medals throughout his career. Among them include golds in springboard events at the World Championships in 2015, 2017, and 2019 and at the 2018 FINA World Cup. Due to a foot injury, Xie missed the Rio Olympics. However, his injury had a silver lining: Xie switched out of his main event, the 10m platform, to the 3m springboard, which brought him the Olympic gold.

Andrew Capobianco & Michael Hixon:

(Left to right) Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon of the United States pose with their silver medal during the award ceremony for the men's synchro 3m springboard final on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. [Photo credit: Team USA]

Capobianco, 21 years old, made his Olympic debut in Tokyo. Born and raised in the small village of Mineola, New York, Andrew was a high school celebrity. Within the same year of his diving debut in seventh grade, he broke a 22-year-old Nassau County diving record. Concurrent with his diving, he also did gymnastics and won the level 8 Junior Olympic national title on the floor exercise in 2013. Still in college, Capobianco competes for Indiana University Bloomington, where he has received seven All-American titles.

At 27, Hixon is among the veterans of the sport. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, he started diving when he was seven years old and drew much of his inspiration from his mother, a revered coach of the men and women’s diving team at UMass Amherst. His discipline has made him a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the synchronized 3m springboard event and has brought him three bronze medals in springboard events at the 2015 World Championships, the Youth Olympic Games, and the Pan American Games.

Chen Yuxi & Zhang Jiaqi:

(Right to left) Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi of China pose with their gold medals during the award ceremony for the women's synchronized 10m platform diving final on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. [Photo credit: China Daily]

The youngest competitor in her event at the Tokyo Games, fifteen-year old Chen hails from Shanghai. Raised by gymnastics coach parents, Chen took up diving at the age of four. At her first world championship in 2019, she earned the gold medal in the 10m platform. Despite her young age, she is able to handle a great deal of pressure. “Because we are very young, we have nothing to lose. We can be very brave,” she said.

Also one of the youngest competitors, Zhang was born in Beijing. She has never lost a world series or grand prix title. She began diving at the age of four after her parents enrolled her in classes hoping that would tame Zhang’s vivacious energy. Leading up to the 2021 Summer Games, Zhang won the individual and synchronized 10m platform at the 2018 FINA Diving World Cup, as well as the 10m synchro at the 2019 World Championships.

Jessica Parratto & Delaney Schnell:

(Left to right) Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the United States pose with their silver medals during the award ceremony of the women's synchronized 10m platform diving final on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. [Photo credit: AP News]

Twenty-seven-year-old Parratto is a two-time Olympian in both the individual and synchronized diving events. Born in Dover, New Hampshire, she started diving at age five while also pursuing swimming, gymnastics, and soccer. After deciding to focus on diving, Parratto competed for Indiana University, where she won the 2015 NCAA Championship title in the platform and earned eight All-American honors.

For 22-year-old Schnell, the Tokyo Games were her first Olympics. She still competes at the collegiate level for the University of Arizona, where she holds the school record for the platform and has won seven All-American titles. This past year, she earned Pac-12 Diver of the Year. She started diving at age 10, but had strong acrobatic skills thanks to her Level 8 gymnastic ability. With a world championship bronze medal under her belt and an Olympic silver, Schnell is already one of the most decorated divers in the U.S. and has a long road ahead of her.

Here are the official diving final results and schedule. The women’s 3m springboard resume on Friday, July 30, and the men’s 3m springboard on Monday, August 2. Go check it out!

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