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Platform, Men

Date27 – 28 April 1906
StatusIntercalated
LocationOrmos Falirou, Peiraias
Participants24 from 7 countries
FormatNine dives from heights of 4, 8, and 12 metres, three from each height.

The diving was held, as were the swimming and rowing events, at the Neo Phaliron Bay in the open water. The diving competition was spread over two days when it had to be canceled on 26 April [13 April] and 27 April [14 April] because of the high winds that came up in the Neo Phaliron Bay. Although some dives were completed in the afternoon of 27 April [14 April], the event was finished the following morning. The competition was held off three platforms at 4, 8 and 12 meters in height above the water. Each diver took nine dives, three from each height. The rules decreed that the dives would be judged on two factors: difficulty and execution. There were five judges, with each diver’s final score being figured by averaging the marks of the five judges. Scoring was 10 points for difficulty, and 10 points for execution, or 20 points possible for each dive. Thus, the highest possible total score was 180.0. The diving tower with three platforms was constructed on a large boat in the bay and it would appear that the diving platforms were springboards converted into rigid platforms for the purpose of the competition. Because of the nature of the construction of the tower, and the often strong winds, diving was not easy and often dangerous, particularly from the 12-metre dive and contestants were seen holding on to the safety rail, or each other prior to their dive - not exactly the best preparation for an Olympic dive but then, that led to another problem. What was a good or bad Olympic dive in 1906? And how should it be executed? Unlike today, there were no guidelines to assist the judges in their assessing merit of difficulty.

The contestants and judges seemed to be in the dark over such matters, although difficulty and execution were the priorities. However, there were many different schools of thought on this subject. Some divers, like those from Italy, Sweden and Great Britain, believed that a form of gymnastics on the board prior to the dive was a required element, and would perform a handstand before their dive. They were certainly amongst the pioneers of the pre-dive handstand. However, the Germans and Austrians believed that what happened to the body in between leaving the platform and hitting the water was what really constituted a good dive. Divers from these countries held their body pose whilst in the air, whilst others did not, and concentrated instead on a perpendicular 90 degree entry into the water without making a splash. How that could be achieved in high winds and choppy water remains a mystery. Fortunately for the German divers, and judges by the look of the scores, entry into the water, with or without a splash, was of no consequence.

If diving techniques were inconsistent amongst the divers, then the same could be said for the scoring inconsistencies of the judges and this led to probably one of the first of many judging scandals in international sporting history over the next 100 years or more. For example, the 16-year-old Australian-born Harold Smyrk, representing Great Britain, showed excellent grace in both his dives and entry into the water and his performances were expected to yield him a gold medal but he was sensationally placed 17th, to the shock of many, which led to “some murmuring at the decision, which was judged one-sided” as the first four places went to either German or Austrian divers, with Gottlob Walz of Germany taking the gold medal with his fellow German Georg Hoffmann taking a second consecutive silver and another German-speaker, Otto Satzinger of Austria, winning the bronze medal. The judges scores are known only for the first eight men but close examination adds fuel to those “one-sided” allegations.

There were five judges, from Sweden, Great Britain, Austria, Germany and Italy. Close examination of each judges marks clearly show a bias by the German and Austrian judges towards their own divers. For example, the German judge scored the German and Austrian divers 166-159-149-150-154 while the remaining three divers from Sweden (2) and Great Britain, were scored lowly with 120-117-122. A similar pattern followed with the Austrian judge who scored the same eight competitors: 159-151-158-149-150 while the Swedes and Briton got 124-125-136. The German judges’ margin was 49 points from the highest to lowest score while a look at, say, the British judging, the gap was just 17 points between lowest and highest score. Interestingly, a look at the judges scores for individual divers reveals a similar pattern and, for example, the scores for seventh placed Robert Andersson were: 142-168-136-122-143 with the highest score coming from Great Britain with the lowest from Germany. The margin of difference over the nine dives was 46 points, which represented five of the 20 points allocated, thus adding yet more fuel to the “some murmuring at the decision, which was judged one-sided” claims.

Probably totally academic, but Walz’s nine winning dives were as follows: 4-metre - 1) Half-gainer, 2) Full-gainer, 3) 1½ somersault layout position; 8-metre - 1) Front jack-knife, 2) tuck jump, 3) half driller; 12-metre - 1) Front jack-knife, 2) Straddle dive, 3) Emperor jump.

PosCompetitor(s)NOCPointsJ1SJ2SJ3SJ4SJ5S
1Gottlob WalzGER156.0140160159166155Gold
2Georg HoffmannGER150.2130161151159150Silver
3Otto SatzingerAUT147.4132151158149147Bronze
4Albert ZürnerGER144.6123166149150135
5Melville ClarkGBR144.0151165124120160
6Hjalmar JohanssonSWE143.4156160124117160
7Robert AnderssonSWE142.2142168136122143
8Fritz NicolaiGER138.0113151150154122
9Einar RosengrenSWE137.6
10Emil LundbergSWE135.4
11Gerlach RichterSWE134.0
12Otto HagborgSWE133.8
13Wilhelm LindgrenSWE130.6
14Sigfrid LarssonSWE131.2
15Alfred JohanssonSWE129.2
16Axel NorlingSWE127.4
17Harold SmyrkGBR126.4
18Emilios KrouazasGRE39.4
19P. ParaskevopoulosGRE27.2
20D. ArgaliasGRE22.0
ACLuigi CapraITADNF
ACCarlo BonfantiITADNF
ACFrank BornamannUSADNF
ACJohn AnderssonSWEDNF