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Coach Chen a springboard for success
08:59, August 05, 2008

To make up for a disappointing medal blank at the Athens Olympic Games four years ago, the US diving team is eyeing a comeback at the Beijing Olympics, with Chinese coach Chen Wenbo.

By doubling the training hours and adding a full-time training program, Chen has brought wholesale changes to the US diving team in the lead-up to the Beijing Games

"We have worked very hard for the past three years. We got medals at the 2006 World Cup, 2007 World Cup and a medal this February at the Worlds. We believe we will break through this year," said Chen, who joined the US diving team three-and-a-half years ago and is now the team's assistant coach.

Unlike Chinese divers, who started diving at a young age, most of the American divers started their careers because of a personal interest. They lack basic skills training, which Chen considers a weak point.

"The training methods are totally different in China. Training in the US used to be just for fun," Chen said. "I have to regulate their training and make it systematic."

Chen has turned part-time training into full-time training, doubling the hours from 20 to 40 a week.

"We were looking for some new ideas, and Mr Chen has certainly brought those," said US diving coach John Wingfield. "He has taken us from a developmental level to the top level."

The divers have accepted Chen's training methods.

"He has a different style to some of the US coaches, but I think that's only made Ariel (Rittenhouse) and I a stronger sychro team," said Kelci Bryant, a US synchronized 3m-springboard diver. "I think my coach is a great coach. He helped me to achieve my dream of being in the 2008 Olympic Games."

Born in Zhanjiang, a city in China's southern Guangdong province, Chen was one of the best divers in the Chinese national team from 1973 to 1982, winning two national titles in 1977 and 1980.

He began his coaching career in the Chinese national diving team in 1983, until 1991. He left to coach in Canada in 1992 and moved to the US two years later.

Compared with the Chinese divers, who are more experienced and whose performances are stable, Chen said he believed the US team was physically stronger and under less pressure.

"My divers are open-minded and have little mental burden in competitions, which will help them create a miracle," he said. "If they are well trained they will have a bright future."

At the Beijing Games, the US diving team is led by veteran divers Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist on the women's 10m platform, and Troy Dumais, who is competing in his third Olympics and has three sixth-place finishes, and a fourth in two Olympics.

"The US team has a mix of veterans and young divers, the whole team is improving," Chen said. "Wilkinson is still the best in the women's platform. I hope those veterans will steady the team's nerves and help it strive for a good result."

Source:China Daily

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