Li Ting (CHN)
Honor Diver (2019)
FOR THE RECORD: 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (10m platform synchro); 2003 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (10m platform synchro); 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (3m springboard synchro); 2006 FINA Diving World Cup: gold (3m springboard synchro); 2004 FINA Diving World Cup: gold (10m platform synchro); 2002 FINA Diving World Cup (10m platform synchro); 2002 ASIAN GAMES: gold (10m platform synchro); 2006 ASIAN GAMES: gold (3m springboard synchro); 2005 SUMMER UNIVERSIADE: gold (10m platform, 3m springboard synchro, 10m platform synchro); 2007 SUMMER UNIVERSADE: gold (3m springboard)
Li Ting was born April 1, 1987 in the Lingui District in China. She and her twin sister were the youngest of three daughters.
Their hometown had an open-air swimming pool where her older sister was trained for basic diving. It was here that Li Ting, and her sister Rao, fell in love with diving at age six, and joined the Lingui Sports School. After school, the three sisters received basic training from Coach Tang Gengsheng.
When Li and her sister were seven years old, senior diving coach Deng Biqiang recognized that the twin sisters had athletic potential in diving and were selected into the Guilin Diving School and were trained by coaches Zeng Yong and Qin Jing. From then on, the sisters began formal training along with their normal education.
Soon, the six a.m. daily wake-up calls caused Ting Li to lose motivation and want to quit the sport. On one day in particular, she was crying during her entire training session and told Coach Qin she wanted to go home. She then thought of her parents and their original dream for her to become an excellent diver.
It is safe to say Li did not give up on her dream. In 1999, she and twin sister, Rao were selected to join the national diving team at the age of 12, suddenly being surrounded by national heroes, like Sun Shuwei and Fu Mingxia.
The training was difficult and the sisters were both under a great deal of stress. Within a year, they had adjusted well and were among China’s best in platform diving. In 2001, Ting and Rao went abroad for the first time to compete in Germany, Russia and the UK, winning gold in the 10m synchro event at all three meets.
A year later, Li Ting competed for China at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, and won gold in the 10m synchro event. In 2003, she won the gold medal in the 10m synchro at the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona with new partner, 2015 ISHOF Honoree Lao Lishi.
Li Ting’s career culminated at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she won the gold medal in the 10m synchro with Lao, defeating the teams from Russia and Canada.
After Athens, Li made the transition to springboard diving, having already mastered the platform. It was not an easy transition, but she quickly became world class, winning the 3m synchro gold medal at the 2005 World Championships with ISHOF Honoree, Guo Jingjing as her partner.
After more springboard training, Li started to experience pain in her leg. She would find out it was from long-term overload training. She insisted she would endure the pain and keep competing, but it would eventually overpower her.
Li qualified to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but could not participate in the Games because of her leg. After the Olympics, she was selected again for the national team training but chose to complete surgery and rehabilitation treatment. The pain was too much and she ultimately ended her diving career.
After diving, Li was able to study humanities, sociology and sports management and completed her graduate program at Beijing Sports University. After briefly living in the United States, she returned to China as the Deputy Director of the Aquatic Center of Guangxi. In 2018, Li successfully passed tests to become an international diving referee, giving back to a sport that gave her so much.