Diving: Why Don't They... make diving more interesting?

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TO MANY people, the American Greg Louganis will not be remembered for being a diving gold medallist at the Seoul Olympics. Louganis, perhaps the world's most memorable diver, sticks in the memory because he smacked his head of the diving board and landed in the water like a sack of spuds.

Diving, like a host of other worthy-but-dull, judge-based Olympic events, is boring. Yes, the divers are technically accomplished and, no, I don't know anybody that could do a double somersault with twist and pike and enter the water like an arrow (or a barrow in Louganis' case), but so what? Diving is no more than circus tumblers at the swimming baths. Can they not do more? Why not diving darts or clay pigeon diving? Or team clay pigeon diving? For instance, divers would have to run off the end of the high platform and jump through a moving target. Points would be scored according to the degree of difficulty in spearing each target - the dart option could be used so divers had to score, say, 301 points and finish on an especially narrow hoop or incorporate a somersault in their dive.

The team event would allow competing countries to play their specialist divers for particular dives, rather like the specialists required in American football - the 6ft 8in, narrow-shouldered Cuban for the tight hoops, the squat Hungarian bomber for the bull's-eye shot. It would certainly help the TV networks develop characters in the sport.

Of course, as the competition progresses the difficulty of the dive could increase. The height of the board could be raised, the moving targets could move faster or the divers could attempt the dive "blind" (leaping from the platform without seeing the target, with only their team-mates on hand to shout "jump"). And in a complete change to the scoring, bonus marks could be awarded for those who make the biggest splash. These changes would produce a much clearer result for viewers and it would open up diving to competitors of all shapes and sizes. It may even throw up a new diving star, and wouldn't Greg Louganis like that?

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