The diving world was shocked to see a non-Chinese diver standing atop the medal podium at the completion of the Men's 10 Meter Platform Event at the 2008 Olympic Games. Australian diver Mathew Mitcham put together the meet of his life in Beijing and will forever be known as "Olympic Champion."
What can we learn from this most unexpected result? Many things including:
1) NO DIVING EVENT IS OVER UNTIL THE LAST DIVER ENTERS THE WATER. Even with what seemed like an insurmountable lead going into the last round and the fact that Chinese diver and current leader Zhou Luxin had his usually very good 307C remaining for his final dive -- strange things can occur -- especially in the finals of the Olympic Games in front of your home crowd. Zhou inexplicably broke position on his kick out AND left his dive short -- scoring a meager 76 points and opening the door for Mitcham who needed a near perfect dive with high degree of difficulty in order to complete the upset. As most coaches know, getting 9.5's and 10's on a 3.8 DD dive does wonders for a diver's final score and that fact held true for Mitcham who earned over 112 points on his final dive to leap past Zhou and win the Gold Medal by four points.
2) LEARNING TO SPOT IS SO VERY IMPORTANT. Mitcham, a former World Champion on Double Mini-Tramp, is an excellent "spotter" (He uses visual references to see and know exactly where he is in the air at all times).
3) GOOD KICK OUTS, COME OUTS AND LINEUPS ARE EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT. It does not matter if you know how to "spot" as well as Matthew Mitcham does if you do not know how to properly kick out, come out and line up a dive. I loved watching the slow motion replays of Mitcham's dives where you could see him "spot" the dive, kick flat and tight, line-up and disappear when he hit the water.
4) GOOD FORM NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE. Mitcham has a great toe and foot point, long legs and excellent body lines. He used all of these elements to wow the judges and put together a most memorable list of dives on the world's biggest stage. CONGRATULATIONS, MATHEW!