When Japanese diver Ken Terauchi, 41 this week, qualified to dive at his sixth Olympic Games, a record in his home country, he surely would have considered performing in front of a packed house of jubilant Japanese fans in which is most likely his last Olympics.
For security reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the stands at the Tokyo Aquatic Center were empty as Terauchi progressed in the men’s 3m springboard competition, ultimately qualifying for Tuesday’s final round.
Immediately after Terauchi on the starting list, the Mexicans Rommel pacheco, 35, had already revealed that the Tokyo Olympics, his fourth Games, would be his last. He was one of two Mexican flag bearers at the opening ceremony.
In the sixth and final round of diving, with both divers not in contention for medals and likely facing the final dives of their respective Olympic careers, the two made their most significant dives of the day: a lead 74.40 points with 3 1/2 somersaults. de Terauchi and a breathtaking 96.90 points ahead of 4 1/2 somersaults from Pacheco.
However, the beauty of the dives pales in comparison to what happened next. The two divers emerged from the diving well to thunderous applause from their competitors. For two brief moments about a minute apart, every diver, trainer and trainer at the site was simply a diving fan hailing two legends of the sport.
The competition was ultimately won by Xie siyi from China, at the age of 25.