Hu Jia (CHN)
Honor Diver (2013)
FOR THE RECORD: 2000 OYLMPIC GAMES: silver (10m platform, 10m platform synchro); 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (10m platform); 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (10m platform synchro); 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: gold (10m platform); 2002 ASIAN GAMES: gold (10m platform synchro).
Diving is a quiet, precise sport. The actual take-off jump happens within a split second and the meditative moment before the jump determines the dives success or failure.
This platform diver performs with artistry, concentration and a personal story of will, dedication and drive. From Wuhan in the Hubei Province of Central China, he barely saw his parents after entering the national diving program at the age of nine like most of China’s prodigies. He had been spotted by a former diver and sent to train with a coach in Guangdong.
Considered relatively untalented by some, Hu Jia proved them all wrong when he won the platform gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, distinguishing himself through unrelenting hard work and beating out the favorite, teammate Tian Liang, for the gold medal.
But it was not without a price to pay, as he developed a detached retina from doing repeated dives from the 10 meter tower, almost going blind. He had also developed severe shoulder problems, but in Athens, he scored 748.08 points to secure his place in diving history, earning nine’s and ten’s on most of his dives.
Four years earlier, at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he won silver medals on the 10 meter platform in the individual and synchronized diving event with partner Tian Liang.
Hu also had gold medal performances at the 2001 Fukuoka World Championship (10m platform synchro), 2005 Montreal World Championship (10m platform) and the 2002 Busan Asian Games (10m platform synchro).
His coaches were Tan Liangde and his wife, Li Qing, both silver medalists in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Tan also won silver medals in 1984 and 1992 and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2000.