Fear of heights no barrier to success

Chinese diver Lin Shan may be terrified standing on the high board, but when she leaves it she usually leaps to the top of the podium.

Picture by IOC

A fear of heights has not stopped Chinese diver Lin Shan from dominating the women’s diving events at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. On Monday, the 17-year-old successfully conquered her acrophobia for the second time in three days, adding the women’s 3m springboard gold medal to the one she picked up in the 10m platform on Saturday.

Lin impressed spectators and judges alike at the Natatorium to top the podium with a score of 505.50, more than 60 points ahead of silver medallist Uliana Kliueva, from Russia.

Despite her dominant medal-winning performances, though, Lin admitted she finds being high above the ground a terrifying experience. “I’m scared of heights,” she said. “I just jump. When I’m in the moment I just jump and don’t think about it.”

While Lin was a red-hot favourite to pick up a second Buenos Aires 2018 gold, USA’s Bridget O’Neil was surprised to find herself on the podium. “I was just trying to keep cool, keep my head focused and do my dives as best I could,” the bronze medallist said. “It was so unexpected.”


The 17-year-old’s prize is the latest addition to the O’Neil family collection of Olympic medals.

Her great-uncle, John Thomas O’Neil, won two Olympic gold medals for Team USA in rugby union in 1920 and 1924. “He was an awesome man and a really hard worker,” O’Neil said. “I’m lucky to have a role model that close to my family.”

For Great Britain’s Maria Papworth, finishing fourth behind O’Neil has fuelled her determination to take the next step. “This just makes me hungry for more,” the 16-year-old said.