Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Happened to TEAM USA in Beijing?

I must confess that I had high hopes for TEAM USA in Beijing but I watched the 2008 Olympic Games with a heavy heart and a somewhat perplexed eye. After judging the Olympic Trials and witnessing some spectacular diving up close and personal throughout that entire event, I felt very confidant that the 2008 U.S. Olympic Diving Team would come away from Beijing with at least one medal if not a few. I looked very favorably upon the team that was selected to represent the United States at these Olympic Games. The divers looked to be in great shape; appeared to be injury-free and were diving very well both nationally and internationally. In addition, the coaches had worked so hard over these past four years getting their divers ready for "The Big Dance" and the administrative support that many felt was lacking in the past seemed to be in place. Based on all this and more, I really felt that USA Diving had turned a huge corner in their comeback from a very drastic free-fall in the world standing of the diving community.

Then Beijing -- no medals once again! Granted, our overall placing was much-improved from Athens but in the past THREE Olympic Games, the United States has won only ONE medal. To put that in perspective: Out of a possible 72 Olympic Diving Medals given during the last three Olympic Games (eight events x three medals per event x three Olympic Games), the US has a record of 1-72. OUCH!

What is the answer? Is it coaching? Is it lack of knowledge? Is it training (too much or not enough)? Is it lack of competitive fire? Is it facilities or lack thereof? Is it "delusions of grandeur" on the part of the athletes and / or the coaches? Are we missing "swagger"? Do we need to recruit and / or find better athletes? Is it experience or inexperience? Is it the age of our divers? Did the Chinese get over-scored at their home pool? Do our divers wilt under pressure at big meets? Were our divers simply tired from the travel and drastic time change? Did our divers peak too soon (i.e. Olympic Trials)? I do not know the answer but I look forward to talking with our Olympic Coaches as well as the athletes to get their take on what needs to be done.

I certainly am not giving up and I hope the coaches, divers and administrators are not giving up either. I think USA Diving has made HUGE strides in the past four years and I think we will continue to improve and continue to chip away and slowly but surely make our way back to the top. GO USA!

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