There are many star athletes in the state of Arizona, but one of the most popular athletes in Tucson now is diver Delaney Schnell. Fresh off an appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in which she and teammate Jessica Parratto won silver medals in the women’s synchronized platform dive, the magnitude of that accomplishment still has not worn off for Schnell.
“It was crazy,” Schnell said. “This thing has some weight to it, so I was pretty shocked when [Parratto] put it around my neck. I feel that it has not fully sunk in that I won a silver medal.”
Before Schnell won the silver medal, she and Parratto had practices at the pool. And for Schnell, those practices did not go exactly to plan.
“I had some rough practices the last two days that we had before my synchronized event,” Schnell said. “I was very nervous, but me and [Parratto] woke up that day and I do not know what it was, but everything felt right. We felt good and ready because we knew something was going to happen.”
Schnell also competed in the individual platform dive, but she was unable to recover after a few low-scoring dives and finished in fifth place.
“I had seven days in between my events, so that was hard just waiting around,” Schnell said. “We were still training, but it was very hard to come off such a high [feeling] and then bring it back down and then back up again. Winning a silver medal in [synchronized diving] gave me confidence going into individuals knowing that this is a bonus round, and I can just aim for another medal.”
With the Olympics now over, Schnell now returns to her regular life of diving in college. Once the school year starts Schnell has a packed schedule.
“I still have two years of eligibility, so I will be competing in college,” Schnell said. “I am also in grad school, so I have to deal with that. There will be international competitions here and there. We will have world championships and all of our qualifying [meets] to earn our Olympic spots again.”
Schnell shared her desire to return to the 2024 Paris Olympics with medal aspirations once again. If Schnell wants to win a gold medal in diving, then she must take down the most elite diving team in the world, Team China. At these past Olympics, the Chinese won seven of the eight gold medals in diving. While anyone can be beaten, Schnell explained how beating the Chinese goes beyond normal training.
“[China] starts them really young,” Schnell said. “In the United States, we choose a sport, and we can start whenever we want. In China, they do not have that option … and they start young. Those girls are up on 10-meter platforms before they are 12 [years old], and we are learning our first dives at 12 [years old.]”
However, Schnell believes that one day someone will dethrone China and disrupt the supremacy they have on the Olympic sport.
“I think we are heading in a good direction right now,” Schnell said. “We just had one of our best performances ever at an Olympics for diving, and that says a lot of where we are going. One thing that we have on China is that we do it because we love it and not as a job. That adds a different aspect that you do not get from the Chinese side.”
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