Tokyo Olympics: First qualifier Jonathan Chan finishes in 26th

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Singapore diver Jonathan Chan in action during the men's 10m platform preliminary round at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Singapore diver Jonathan Chan in action during the men's 10m platform preliminary round at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (PHOTO: Reuters/Antonio Bronic)

Reporting from Tokyo

TOKYO — He was the first Singapore athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. By some scheduling quirks, Jonathan Chan would also be the last Singapore athlete to begin his event in Tokyo.

On Friday (6 August) - two days before the Olympic closing ceremony - the diver finally took to the Tokyo Aquatics Centre for the men's 10m platform preliminary round. 

The 24-year-old scored 311.15 points from six dives, placing him 26th out of 29 competitors in the event. With only the top 18 divers able to advance to the semi-final round, Chan was unable to progress in the competition. China's Yang Jian was the top qualifier with 546.90 points.

Chan had qualified for the Tokyo Games back in September 2019, when he won gold in the men's 10m platform event at the Asian Diving Cup. 

The achievement earned him the spot in Tokyo, as he also became the first Singaporean to qualify for an Olympic diving competition - a feat soon followed by Freida Lim, who competed in the women's 10m platform event on Wednesday.

Relieved that long journey is over

When asked about the near two-year period between qualification and the actual Olympic competition, he told Yahoo News Singapore, "Honestly, I'm just relieved that it's over.

"It's been quite a long journey, with COVID-19 thrown into it, and then the postponement of the Games. 

"The COVID-19 circuit breaker I didn't mind, because it allowed me to rest and recharge, since I couldn't dive off the platforms every day. But the Olympic postponement really ate into my study semesters, so I had to juggle between schoolwork and training for the Olympics. So I'm really looking forward to a long break from diving after this."

Amid preparing for the competition in Tokyo, Chan has also had to complete coursework for his Architecture degree at the Singapore University of Technology and Design in the evenings.

"I don't think there was a lot of stress, but in terms of enjoying the Olympics, it definitely wasn't the amount of enjoyment that I thought I would get," he said.

"The first five dives could have obviously gone better… But in training, my dives would be here and there as well, so it was within expectations. I’m quite satisfied with how I performed."

Originally a gymnast, Chan switched to diving after watching the sport during the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore in 2010. He eventually took part in diving at the second YOG in Nanjing in 2014.

He has won two silvers and three bronzes at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games editions.

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