History Centre Heroes: Plymouth’s Olympic Divers

Diving made its Olympic debut in 1904 when athletes aimed for the longest jump. Today their aerial acrobatics are judged in minute detail.

The Rio Olympics began last week and run until 21 August. Male and female divers are each competing in four events: the individual 3m springboard, synchronised 3m springboard, individual 10m platform and synchronised 10m platform. The synchronised events are performed in pairs.

Britain has taken an 11-strong diving team to Rio. The team is led by Plymouth-born Tom Daley and also features two Plymouth-born females: Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch.

Diving is one of four aquatic sports at the Games along with swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo. The diving competitions will feature up to 136 athletes. Here are some short bios about the three who hail from here!

Diving
Diving is one of four aquatic sports at the Rio Olympics

Sarah Barrow
Born: 22 October 1988
Age: 27
Event(s): Women’s individual 10m platform
This is her second Olympics
Sarah was encouraged to try diving at the age of 12 and she has been competing ever since. She endured a number of set backs in her early career such as narrowly missing out on Olympic qualification and two serious back injuries. She fought back however and went on to win Gold at the 2012 European Championships, came fifth at the London 2012 Olympics (with Tonia Couch) and won Silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games (also with Couch). In 2014 after suffering from shin pains Barrow was diagnosed with an osteoid osteoma – a cancer-free tumour. In 2015 she was also diagnosed with tibial stress fractures in both her shins. After operations and lots of rehabilitation her two and a half years of injury are over and her place at the Rio Olympics is well deserved.

Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow
Tonia Couch (left) and Sarah Barrow (right) celebrate with their medals after finishing third in their Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final during the 18th FINA Visa Diving World Cup in London, 2012. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Tonia Couch
Born: 20 May 1989
Age: 27
Event(s): Women’s individual and synchronised 10m platform
This is her third Olympics
With her 10 synchronised partnership with Sarah Barrow, Couch has enjoyed a great deal of success including fourth in 2011, third in 2012 and fifth in 2013 at the World Championships, fourth at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, fifth at the London 2012 Olympics and second at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She was a competitive gymnast and who went to Plymouth diving for a trial in September 1999. Just four weeks later she won her first competition, a novice event at Crystal Palace in London. In 2002 she became the youngest girl ever to qualify for the lottery funded Junior Olympic Programme. In 2008 and 2009, her individual eighth places at the Beijing Olympics and then the World Championships (the best result by a British female for 20 years), secured her place in British diving history.

Plymouth-born Tom Daley leads the Great Britain dive team at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Plymouth-born Tom Daley leads the Great Britain dive team at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Tom Daley
Born: 21 May 1994
Age: 22
Event(s): Men’s individual and synchronised 10m platform
This is his third Olympics
Daley, who now lives and trains in London, started diving when he was seven and has made an impact in national and international competitions since he was nine. When he represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics he was our youngest competitor, the youngest competitor of any nationality outside the sport of swimming, and the youngest to participate in a final. In 2009 he reached a career best ranking of number one in the FINA (the International Swimming Federation) World Diving Rankings for the individual 10m platform. He won two gold medals at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games for the individual and synchronised 10m platform. Daley won the bronze medal for Great Britain in the individual 10m platform at the 2012 London Olympics. He and Dan Goodfellow (who is featured in the photo below) won the bronze medal for the synchronised 10m platform in Rio earlier this week!

Tonia Couch, Tom Daley, Dan Goodfellow and Sarah Barrow
Tonia Couch, Tom Daley, Dan Goodfellow and Sarah Barrow. Photo: Penny Cross

Britain’s best-ever diving medal haul from a single Olympics is two from the 1960 Rome Games. The squad have enjoyed great results at World and European Championships over the past year so here’s wishing them all the best!

Find out all you need to know about the diving competitions at the Rio Olympics here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s