Jul 19, 2013, 8:57 AM EDT
The world diving championships kick off Saturday at one of the great scenic venues in all of sports, the Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain.
You may remember the outdoor pool with a breathtaking view of the Catalan capital from the 1992 Olympics, where the late American Mark Lenzi won on the springboard and China’s Fu Mingxia prevailed on the platform, the first of her record-tying four individual Olympic diving golds.
Or the 2003 world championships, where recently retired Canadian Alex Despatie nailed one of the greatest dives in major championship history, his patented twister (backward 2 1/2 somersault with 2 1/2 twists from the pike position) with a whopping 3.8 difficulty, for 107.16 points (9s and 10s) in the final round to win.
You may also recall it from a Kylie Minogue music video.
Here’s a refresher and a primer for the first major international meet since the 2012 Olympics:
What happened in London: China dominated but again fell short of sweeping, taking six of eight events.
One of those two non-China golds came in the marquee diving event of the Games, the men’s platform on the next to last day of competition. American David Boudia upset a defeaning crowd inside the London Aquatics Centre by defeating Great Britain’s Tom Daley (in addition to world champion and favorite Qiu Bo.)
USA Diving won four medals in London, its first medals since Laura Wilkinson‘s comeback gold at the 2000 Olympics.
The other three podiums came in synchro events — Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen (bronze) and Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston (silver) on the springboard and Boudia and Nick McCrory on the platform (bronze).
What’s happened since London: Start with Boudia, 24, who took time off to get married and appear as a judge on a celebrity diving TV show.
He returned to competition in May, taking silver at the USA Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., behind a Chinese diver who did not compete individually at the Olympics.
Boudia then easily won trials a week later and notably nearly qualified the synchronized 3-meter springboard.
Boudia is tempering expectations given the layoff but said he will perform the same dives as he did in London.
What could be different from 2012 is the competition. Daley, he of the 2.4 million Twitter followers, was listed as doubtful due to a glandular problem by the BBC earlier this week. However, he’s in Barcelona and practicing but, like Boudia, will not compete in synchro.
Qiu, who cited an illness as a reason for settling for silver in London, is back boasting a new, higher difficulty dive. The 20-year-old leads a Chinese team hoping to sweep all 10 events as it did in 2011.
Dumais and Ipsen are the only other Olympic medalists on the 15-diver U.S. roster, but they are no longer synchro partners.
They parted mutually given Dumais, 33, isn’t yet committed to another full Olympic cycle and Ipsen, 20, is a rising junior at Stanford, 1,700 miles away from Dumais’ training base in Austin, Texas.
“I haven’t closed the door,” said Dumais, a four-time Olympian and five-time world championship medalist looking for his first worlds gold. “Hopefully he hasn’t closed the door.”
Dumais qualified for the synchro springboard with a new, even younger partner, incoming Texas freshman Michael Hixon.
Ipsen swept the trials one- and three-meter springboard events after doubling up at NCAAs in March.
None of the eight U.S. women’s divers have any worlds or Olympic experience, but keep on eye on Samantha Pickens, who won the NCAA one-meter springboard title for Arizona and then took the same event at trials, and Amy Cozad, who made the worlds team on the platform after finishing third at last year’s Olympic trials, where only the top two advanced to London.
Saturday: Women’s synchro springboard (11:30 a.m. ET)
Sunday: Men’s synchro platform (11:30 a.m.)
Monday: Men’s one-meter springboard (8 a.m.), women’s synchro platform (11:30)
Tuesday: Women’s one-meter springboard (8 a.m.), men’s synchro springboard (11:30)
Thursday: Women’s platform (11:30 a.m.)
Friday: Men’s three-meter springboard (11:30 a.m.)
Saturday, July 27: Women’s three-meter springboard (11:30 a.m.)
Sunday, July 28: Men’s platform (8 a.m.)
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