Team Korea looks to make a big splash at Tokyo Games
Korea will send five divers to compete in the five diving events at the Tokyo Games, the most Olympic diving berths the country has ever earned.
Korea has been competing in diving since 1960, when Lee Pil-jung first went to the Rome Games. Since then, Team Korea has participated in nine other Olympics, but is yet to win a medal.
There are two kinds of Olympic Diving events, the springboard and the platform. For springboard events, athletes use a three-meter flexible diving board to generate bounce so that they can perform acrobatic movements in the air, while in platform events, athletes dive from a 10-meter-high fixed platform.
The five-member Korean national diving squad will compete in both the men's and women's individual events for the three-meter springboard and 10-meter platform, and the men’s synchronized 10-meter springboard.
The Tokyo Games will be the first time that Korea has competed in the men’s synchronized event as Woo Ha-ram and Kim Yeong-nam will leap for Olympic glory from the 10-meter synchronized springboard.
The pair secured their berth after finishing fifth at the FINA Diving World Cup 2021 held from May 1 to 6 in Tokyo.
Woo and Kim will also compete in the individual 3-meter springboard.
Woo doesn't stop there, as he goes on to also compete at the men’s 10-meter platform alongside Kim Yeong-taek, Kim Yeong-nam’s brother. Woo is competing in three events, the most out of everyone on the national diving team.
Woo is familiar with the demands of competing in multiple events as he often finds himself competing for at least three and sometimes as many as five events at the world championships. Considering that most divers compete in three events per tournament at the most, Woo's record is exceptional.
Woo is the only Korean diver to have earned an Olympic berth two years in advance at the FINA World Championships held from July 17 to 18, 2019 in Gwangju where he qualified for two individual events.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, he wrote new Korean history as the first diver to advance to the finals of the 10-meter platform event, finishing 11th, the highest-ever placement by a Korean diver at any Olympics.
Woo currently stands at No. 12 in the world for the three-meter men’s individual springboard and No. 21 for the men’s individual platform.
For the women’s events, Kim Su-ji will compete in the three-meter springboard event and Kwon Ha-lim will compete in the 10-meter platform. They both qualified at the Diving World Cup held last month in Tokyo.
Kim Su-ji also made history for Korean diving in 2019 when she won bronze medal in the one-meter springboard event at the FINA World Championship in Gwangju, as it was Korea’s first world championship medal for the event. However, this win did not double as an Olympic berth because there are no one-meter events at the Games.
She was also the youngest Korean to compete at the 2012 London Summer Games in any discipline, where she finished last in the preliminaries. Tokyo will be her second time at the Games, having failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Synchronized diving events start on July 25 and the individual events start on July 30. The last day of the event is August 7.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]