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China divers retire after dominating Tokyo Olympics

Shi Tingmao, Han Wang

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 25: Tingmao Shi and Han Wang of Team China celebrate victory during Women’s 3m Springboard Finals on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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After its most dominating Olympics ever in diving, China’s national team is seeing major changes.

China won seven of the eight diving golds in Tokyo with a silver in the other. It finished one-two in all four individual events.

Now, half of that 10-diver dream team has moved on, according to Chinese media. Most notably Shi Tingmao and Xie Siyi, who swept the women’s and men’s individual and synchronized springboard gold medals, reportedly left the competitive side of the sport.

As have Wang Han, who took springboard silver behind Shi and then joined her for synchro gold, and male platform stars Chen Aisen, the 2016 Olympic champion, and Yang Jian, who took silver in Tokyo behind the still active Cao Yuan.

Shi, 30, is the biggest name and maybe the most expected after reportedly saying in Tokyo that it was likely her final Olympics. She is now reportedly coaching.

After legends Chen Ruolin and Wu Minxia retired after Rio, Shi became the veteran leader of the women’s team. She went four-for-four in her Olympic career, winning individual and synchro springboard gold in 2016 and 2021. She also won eight world titles between 2011 and 2019 between individual and synchro springboard.

Xie was told in 2014 that he would never dive again after breaking his right ankle. He later reaggravated the injury, and it ultimately ruled him out of Rio Olympic contention. After that, he won both world titles on springboard in the last Olympic cycle, in addition to his gold in Tokyo.

The national diving team now consists of 18 athletes, 15 of whom were born after 2000, according to Xinhua News Agency. The oldest is the 27-year-old Cao, who won gold medals in three different events at the last three Olympics.

Quan Hongchan, who won Tokyo women’s platform gold at age 14, is also still with the program, according to Xinhua.

The world championships are this summer in Budapest.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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