Diving: Mexicans take leap of faith into diving pool
LONDON (Reuters) - From the high, rocky cliffs of Acapulco, to the perfectly heated pool at the London Aquatics Centre, Mexican divers like to take the plunge on high risk tactics.
The sport has a long tradition going back at least as far as its most successful Olympian, Joaquin Capilla, who won four medals in the 1940s and 1950s, and the locals of Acapulco, who since the 1930s have performed daring dives off their famous 35-metre-high cliffs.
In London, Mexican divers are carrying Capilla's torch, winning the country's only two medals of the Games so far, both silver behind the dominant Chinese diving team.
"Mexicans like to say that we are great fighters," said Julian Sanchez, who competed on Wednesday in the three-meter springboard synchronized event. "So we like to think big."
As part of that psyche, the Mexican divers at London have been betting on difficult dives that produce high scores if they come off, but no podium place if they do not.
The gamble paid off for Ivan Garcia and German Sanchez on Monday, and for Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco on Tuesday in the men's and women's 10-metre synchronized platform events.
But Julian Sanchez and partner Yahel Castillo's risky tactics backfired on Wednesday when their tricky four-and-a-half forward tuck was a little shoddy in the fourth round, before they botched a reverse three and a half in the fifth, Sanchez apparently slipping and coming off too early.
Castillo shrugged off the gamble, saying it was always in the hands of fate.
"Anyone could have won, anyone could have come last. The truth is it was always God's decision, so there's no problem," he said.
With the success of athletes like Espinosa, who also won a bronze in Beijing, the focus for the swimming federation has inevitably shifted away from the pool and towards diving.
The performance of their athletes, two silver medals in three finals seems to vindicate the extra resources and effort that is being put into the sport's development in Mexico.
"Mexico is a country with a lot of diving talent and now the trainers are working together more to help that talent bear fruit," said Espinosa after her medal win on Tuesday.
"This is the most complete team that Mexico has had for years in the Olympics and with a different mentality - that we want to win."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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