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In Doha, Qatar, 100-year-old Taghi Askari prepared for his exhibition dive at the 2024 World Championships. The Iranian had never lost his passion for diving and had won medals at the first-ever Asian Games in 1951. He was now set to compete in the World Aquatics Masters Championships as the oldest competitor.

Standing on the edge of a platform with water rippling below, Askari took a deep breath and dove into the water like he had done so many times before. For him, diving had been a lifelong love since he was a teenager. He first encountered it at a swimming pool near his childhood home in Iran where other children were somersaulting into the water.

Askari’s passion for diving led him to win medals at national titles and Asian Games. “When I was competing at a national level, the last championships I did was when I was 41 years old,” he said. “I achieved a gold medal at the national level, and after that, I said goodbye to the sport.” But even after retiring from competitive diving, Askari continued to be passionate about it and has been involved in coaching young divers in Iran.

The sport of diving has changed significantly since Askari began competing in it. By the time of the 1974 games in Tehran, Chinese swimmers had entered and improved significantly compared to Iranian swimmers who stayed at their starting point. “The Chinese swimmers had entered this beautiful sport and they started to improve by a lot – we just couldn’t catch them as we stayed at the same level we started at,” said Askari. However, despite these changes, he remains excited about participating in the World Aquatics Masters Championships as an exhibition diver and hopes to inspire others with his lifelong love of diving.

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