Li Shixin
Li Shixin kisses his silver after the men's 1m springboard final at the world championships. Image by AP PHOTO
  • diving

Veteran Li dives to another Australian medal at worlds

Ian Chadband February 4, 2024

Evergreen diving star Li Shixin has won a silver medal at the world aquatics championships in the 1-metre springboard, his best performance yet in Australian colours at the grand old age of 35.

The much-decorated figure who first won a world gold in the same event for China in Shanghai 14 years ago has now landed a third global medal for his adopted country by finishing second in Saturday’s final in Doha.

Twenty-four hours after he had taken bronze as part of the Aussie quartet in the mixed team event, Li put on a brilliant show which was only bettered by the gifted Mexican teenager Osmar Olvera, who proved in a class of his own for the gold.

It was yet another landmark for one of the most bemedalled divers the sport has seen, as the man who won two springboard titles for China tackled a field in which he was the oldest competitor by six years.

Li Shixin
 Li Shixin has won his third medal for Australia at a world championships. Image by AP PHOTO 

Li, a former diving instructor in China who emigrated with his wife and three children and joined the Australian diving national team set-up in 2019 in a bid to achieve his dream of competing at an Olympics, added the silver to the bronze he won in the 1m springboard in Budapest in 2022.

While Olvera, the 19-year-old from Jalisco, dominated from the outset in the final to effectively end the chance of an Australian double following Alysha Koloi’s win in the equivalent women’s event on Friday, Li overcame a poor start in the six-dive final.

He was fifth after the opening effort but superb dives in the third and fifth rounds helped him quickly take control of second-place overall.

There was a nervous moment for him with a disappointing final dive that looked as if it might let in Briton Ross Haslam to pip him for silver.

Li dives
 Li is a double world champion, having previously won golds for his native China. Image by AP PHOTO 

But he was relieved to see the scores ensured he would hold on to the silver with an overall tally of 395.70 points, just 2.60 ahead of Haslam, while Olvera (431.75) was a huge 36.05 points clear of the Australian.

The other Australian finalist, Kurtis Mathews, ended up sixth with 372.90 points.

Olvera is the first diver from a country other than China to win gold in the event since Canadian Alexandre Despatie, in 2005.

But the Chinese, who have sent a shadow team to Doha while concentrating on their Olympics preparations, did claim their first gold when 13-year-old Huang Jianjie and Zhang Jiaqi won the mixed 10-metre synchronised platform event.