Delaney Schnell competes in the women's 10m platform preliminary round at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 4, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — For Delaney Schnell, it was all about keeping a smile on her face and enjoying her first Olympic experience.
Although the women’s 10-meter platform competition at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 did end like she hoped, she still shed tears of joy. The 22-year-old University of Arizona graduate finished fifth in the event with a score of 340.40 — the best finish since the 2004 Olympic Games when Laura Wilkinson also finished fifth.
“It's been unbelievable,” Schnell said of her first Olympic experience. “That's why I'm crying now because it's really just been an incredible journey. I couldn't be more happy with it.”
Schnell leaves Tokyo as an Olympic medalist. Last week in synchronized platform diving, she won the Olympic silver medal with Jessica Parratto. After finishing third in prelims and semifinals, she was a favorite to medal in the individual platform event today. Still, she was not upset at the outcome.
“I did not expect anything out of [my first Olympic Games],” Schnell said. “I think that's what made it a little easier to come in and enjoy it and perform the way I did.”
The Chinese kept a lock on the women’s platform diving Olympic title, with 14-year-old Quan Hongchan dominating the competition with a 466.20 score and winning the fourth Olympic gold medal in a row for her country. She scored perfect 10s across the board on two of her dives.
Chen Yuxi, 15, and the 2019 world platform diving champion and the Olympic champion in synchronized 10-meter platform last week, earned the silver medal with 425.40. Australia’s Melissa Wu rounded out the podium with the bronze medal after tallying 371.40 in her five dives.
The U.S. has not won an Olympic medal in women’s 10-meter platform since 2000, when Laura Wilkinson won the event. Prior to the 2000 Games, U.S. women had stood on the 10-meter platform Olympic podium in almost every Olympic Games since 1924. But the Chinese have dominated the event in this millennium.
Schnell is the U.S.’s brightest hope in platform diving since the Wilkinson era. Raised in Tucson, Arizona, she was a level 8 gymnast in her youth, then discovered diving thanks to a gymnastics teammate whom she saw diving. Schnell told her teammate that she wanted to quit gymnastics, and the teammate suggested she try diving.