Men’s platform diving was first on the Olympic program in St Louis 1904 and springboard was added in London 1908. Women’s platform diving was introduced in Stockholm 1912 and springboard debuted in Antwerp 1920. Marjorie Gestring of the United States was 13 years old when she won the women’s springboard in Berlin 1936 and she remains the youngest individual gold medallist at the Olympic Games. At Sydney in 2000, synchronised springboard and platform diving events were introduced for both men and women.
The greatest divers in Olympic history have been Patricia McCormick and Greg Louganis from the United States and Fu Mingxia from China. McCormick won the women’s springboard-platform double at Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. Greg Louganis did the same in the men’s events at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 and also finished second in the platform diving in Montreal 1976. Fu Mingxia won the women's platform at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 and the springboard in Atlanta and Sydney. She also finished second in the synchronised springboard in 2000.
For all individual events, divers select from a number of set dives that have been rated according to their degree of difficulty, or create their own dives which are rated according to a set formula. The elements of the dive that are judged are: approach, take-off, elevation, execution and entry into water.
The dives are scored out of 10 by seven judges. The highest and lowest of the seven scores are eliminated, the five remaining scores are multiplied by the dive’s degree of difficulty and, finally that figure is multiplied by 0.6.
In individual events the men complete six dives and women five. After each preliminary event, the field is reduced to 18. These divers then compete in a semi-final, after which their preliminary and semi-final scores are added to find the top 12 divers. These 12 then compete in the final. The gold medallist is the diver with the highest combined semi-final and final score. The original preliminary score does not count.
In synchronised diving, the pairs must perform a combination of dives: some have set a degree of difficulty; others have an average of the two degrees of difficulty. A panel of nine judges score the dives. Four of the judges assess the execution of the individual dives; the other five assess the synchronisation of the divers. The pairs compete in an outright final, each pair doing five dives.