When the Chinese women stunned the diving world by finishing gold-silver in both the 3m and 10m events at the FINA World Championships in Madrid 1986, few could have foreseen what became a regular question approaching the annual major events: who might beat the Chinese? But entering the 1990s, the Asian nation grew into a diving superpower.
In the new millennium apart from the relatively weak performances in 2003 and 2005, the question changed into a simple one: would anyone be able to prevent the Chinese from sweeping all titles?
Usually, there were a couple of successful attempts but not many. At the 14th FINA World Championships 2011, fittingly at home in Shanghai, the Chinese finally achieved the perfect 10 – not only with some brilliant dives at the judges but on the medal table too. And even though the programme was extended to 12, then 13 events. At the last edition in Gwangju, the Chinese were overwhelming once more, grabbing 12-of-13 titles.
Indeed, they finished 12/12 as they did not enter the mixed 3m so the 13th title went to Australia. In all but one individual final, they bagged two medals (a 5th place in the women’s 1m spoiled the party a bit). In four events they claimed gold-silver pairing, leaving China to finish these championships with 17 medals.
Here is China's title-haul since 2001:
- 2001: 10 events/8 titles
- 2003: 10/4
- 2005: 10/5
- 2007: 10/9
- 2009: 10/7
- 2011: 10/10
- 2013: 12/9
- 2015: 13/10
- 2017: 13/8
- 2019: 13/12
Consequently, the all-time rank is a China versus the world competition: they have won 95 golds. The rest of the world managed to land 56 so far, with the Russians and the USA sitting in the second and third places with 13 titles apiece.
In total, China claimed 175 medals; Russia has 50 and the USA 46, just to put China's dominance into perspective.
Synchro: China's golden zone
While the individual races seem to be more open – especially on the platform – the synchro events belong to the Chinese, especially among the women. Ever since the advent of the ‘duets’ in 1998, the sports’ ruling nation has barely let the others win.
Interestingly, at the Perth premier, the Chinese man doubled down the 3m and 10m titles while the women finished only runner-up. Remember the victors: Russia’s Yulia Pakhalina and Irina Lashko in the 3m, and Ukraine’s Olena Zhupina and Svitlana Serbina in the 10m. They were the first world champions and the last ones to date to outperform the Chinese women. Since 2001, both events witnessed a golden run of 10 editions from China!
Among the men, the landscape is just a bit different. In the 3m, only the Russians could upset the Chinese. And they did it twice, in 2003 and 2017. The other nine titles went to the Chinese, five of them in a row to the grand Qin Kai who managed to finish first with four different partners between 2007 and 2015.
On the platform it’s just slightly better: China leads 8-3, won six of the last seven editions of the FINA World Championships, and the last ones to ruin their party were the German legendary duo of Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein in 2013 – it’s a bit unbelievable that even though Germany is one of the top European diving countries, but to date, this one is their only world title.