Gao Min (CHN)
Honor Diver (1998)
FOR THE RECORD: 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (3m springboard); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (3m springboard); 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (3m springboard); 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (3m springboard, 1m springboard); 1987 FINA WORLD CUP: gold (springboard); 1989 FINA WORLD CUP: gold (3m springboard, 1m springboard); 1990 GOODWILL GAMES: gold (3m springboard, 1m springboard); 1990 ASIAN GAMES: gold (3m springboard, 1m springboard); WOMEN’S WORLD SPRINGBOARD DIVER OF THE YEAR: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992.
Not since the legendary Greg Louganis has a diver been as dominant, over a seven year period, than this young woman with the tiny physique and body of a gymnast. Undefeated in world competition on the 3 meter springboard between 1986 and 1992, was this elegant and acrobatic champion of China, Gao Min.
She started diving at the age of 9 years in her hometown of Sichuam, China. In 1983 at age 13, she was the World Age Group 1 meter and 3 meter springboard champion. She became a member of the Chinese National Team, moved to Beijing, competed in and won 3 National Championships. Her coach and national team coach, Xu Yiming, says “She is the first one in the pool and the last to leave.” Her hard work paid off and she won her first major international competition at the 1986 World Championships on the 3 meter springboard, defeating teammate Li Yhua by over 33 points.
She won the 1987 World Cup, and is the only female diver ever to score over 600 points on the springboard; and she did it three times. At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, she won the 3m springboard gold medal by 46 points, scoring 8’s or higher on all but a single dive.
At 18, she continued diving, winning the 1989 World Cup 1m and 3m springboard, then the 1990 Asian Games and Goodwill Games 1m and 3m springboard. At the 1991 Perth World Championships, she defeated Wendy Lucero of the USA and Irina Lashko of Russia, to win her second World Championship in 3m springboard and the new World Championship event, 1m springboard competition.
In 1991, she considered retirement. The hard training and injuries were taking their toll. But her coach encouraged her and she decided to continue through the 1992 Olympics. In Barcelona, she continued her world dominance by winning the Olympic 3m springboard gold medal beating Irina Lashko of the Unified Team. She became the most prestigious Chinese athlete and one of the greatest divers of the world.
During her career, she was the Women’s World Springboard Diver of the Year for a record 7 straight years from 1986 to 1992. She also tied the legendary Greg Louganis for receiving the most international awards on one board.
She is currently the head diving coach at the Kinsman Pool in Edmonton, Alberta, putting her English language and Chinese diving skills to good use helping the aspiring athletes who will try to break her records.