Tian Liang (CHN)
2012 Honor Diver
FOR THE RECORD: 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (10m platform), silver (10m platform synchro); 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (10m platform synchro), bronze (10m platform); 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (10m platform synchro), silver (10m platform); 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (10m platform, 10m platform synchro); 2003 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (10m platform, 10m platform synchro).
Tian Liang began diving at the age of seven. He was very quick to learn and was hard working. He joined the National Team in 1993 at the age of 13. Nicknamed “child prodigy”, he led a new generation of Chinese divers in the 10 meter platform event. His technical style featured a strong explosive force, vigorous movements and agility in execution.
Tian won his first National title in 1994 in the 10 meter platform and claimed his first World Championship in the 10 meter platform synchronized diving event in 1998 as well as the silver medal in the 10 meter platform. It was not until the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 that he realized his dream of winning the Olympic gold medal in the 10 meter platform event, beating favorite Dimity Sautin of Russia and teammate Jia Hu of China. He scored 101.52 points, the most points ever recorded for one dive in Olympic competition. Tian and partner Yang Jinghui won the silver medal in the men’s synchronized 10 meter platform event. In 2004, in Athens he won his second Olympic gold medal in the men’s synchronized diving 10 meter platform event. Individually, he took the bronze medal at those same Games in the 10 meter platform event. In addition to his four Olympic medals, Tian won the gold medal in the 10 meter platform and 10 meter platform synchronized diving events at the 2001 World Championships, and bronze medals in both events at the 2003 World Championships.
But, not since Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe has an Olympic Champion made such an impression in the entertainment industry. Tiang Liang’s acting career is just beginning. Today, his is one of the most recognizable faces in all of China. Recently, Liang starred in Chinese language films including “A Beautiful Life” (2011), the 2010 romance “The Fantastic Water Babies”, “I love Wing Chun” among others. He appeared in music videos with his beautiful and talented wife, Ye Qian, and released an autobiography recalling his brilliant career.
His success in diving and his bright sunny smile made him an adorable sweetheart in media and entertainment circles, but his commercial activities cost him a place on the national team to compete in Beijing. Hundreds of media reporters flocked to get a glimpse of the legendary diver at a press conference held in Beijing. A few months later, he and Ye were married and now have two children.