Between Friday 9th and Sunday 11th of March the DPRK was one of the countries participating in the FINA Diving World Series in Beijing’s iconic Water Cube (official name is the less-evocative ‘National Aquatics Centre’) . This Diving World Series is an interesting event; it is happening over four separate stages, in Beijing, Japan (happening at the time of writing), Kazan (Russia), and in Montreal. It involves both men and women, dives from various heights of boards, solo and synchronised dives, and participants from a range of countries including the UK, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, Malaysia, and more.
The dominant force in world diving these days is China. On the opening day of the event in Beijing, two of our staff went to meet the DPRK Sports representative at the Water Cube and asked about what she thought of the Korean team’s chances. She frankly pointed out that China wins everything, and so to be first of all the others was the aim, with the aspiration to beat the Chinese eventually.
North Korea’s team consisted of four divers: three ladies and one man. The main event at this kind of meet is the 10m board. Now I (this writer) have jumped (not dived!) from a 10m board on two occasions. Once in the sea off the port city of Wonsan in North Korea. It feels like you float in air forever at this height, it’s pretty terrifying. I was falling for an age and took a moment to look down between my feet just as I hit the water, which was like being punched first in the feet, then in a more sensitive area, then quite solidly in the face. Not much fun. A couple of years later I find myself at the Changwangwon Health Complex pool in Pyongyang. I thought I would try the 10m board here and the result was that my goggles fell off as I hit the water (yes I know, don’t jump while wearing goggles) and sunk to the bottom of the pool. I was shaken up by the near-death experience of the jump so thought I would leave them there, plus I wasn’t sure I could manage a 3m surface dive to get them. But then a four year old North Korea child retrieved them for me. As a whole it was a chastening experience.
Anyway this is a long digression to point out that a 10m board is really high! So kudos to anyone who dives off and manages any kind of acrobatics at all!
In the ladies' solo 10m event the Chinese took an early lead, and maintained it throughout. Kim Kuk Hyang, the DPRK’s main hope, performed very well though, and took an early third place, holding it until the end of the event to finish with a bronze medal and 369.55 points. To be honest I was completely mystified by the scoring system of this event; an announcer read out the points awarded by each judge but the total never seemed to match, and I didn’t seem to be able to reconcile the figures by averaging them out either. Anyway everyone did well, nobody belly-flopped, lost their goggles, or embarrassed themselves, so congrats to everyone!
In the final event of the night the synchronised mixed pairs, the DPRK also did well. Coming second against the all-conquering Chinese team (so if we just assume that China wins it all, that’s two golds for the DPRK side, not a bad evening!)
Full results for the Beijing stage of the FINA Diving World Series can be found here, and if any readers are attending the next stages in Russia or Canada then give the Koreans a bit of a cheer, and why not send us in a guest blog!
*Please note that this author knows absolutely nothing about the sport of diving. He did see British legend Tom Daley there though and shouted some support. Tom didn’t seem to hear sadly ☹