Chen Wen, a two-time head Olympic head coach for British Diving, died at the age of 80 this week. Chen worked for British Diving from 2003 until after the 2008 Olympics, serving as the head coach for the British team at both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Chen also worked with the Australian team at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner said of Chen’s passing:
“It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of esteemed coach Chen Wen. He was a held in high regard by the diving community and his legacy lives on through the countless coaches and athletes he nurtured in the sport.”
Chen coached numerous athletes to Olympic appearances for England, including one of Britain’s most prolific divers, Tom Daley. Prior to his retirement from coaching, Chen helped Daley to become the youngest British national champion on the 10-meter platform, youngest European champion, and second-youngest British athlete to represent the country at the Olympic Games. At the 2008 Games, he finished 8th on the 10-meter synchro and 7th on the 10-meter. Daley was recognized with the Order of the British Empire earlier this week.
Prior to Daley’s Olympic appearance, Chen worked with Leon Taylor in the lead-up to the 2004 Games. Taylor, who represented his country at three Olympic games from 1996 until 2004, won his first Olympic medal in Athens, claiming silver in the 10-meter synchro. He was the first British diver to medal at the Games in nearly 50 years at that time.
Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow also made Olympic appearances under his coaching at Plymouth Diving. Both divers won European Championship titles, including a gold medal diving together in the 10-meter synchro in 2012.
Outside of the international success of his divers, his work was also instrumental for future generations of coaches. Chen is recognized for introducing the water harness to diving coaches in the United Kingdom and teaching coaches on the use of the tool. He continued working with both divers and coaches following his retirement in 2008.
Current British Diving Talent and Development Manager, Julain Bellan, said of Chen:
“Chen’s legacy and influence on the modern era of British Diving is indisputable, throughout his tenure as National Coach he tirelessly gave up his time to work with young coaches and divers. His impact on the shape of the future senior teams over the past two decades is evident, with Tom Daley, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow among a number of high profile names to come under his stewardship during junior team training camps to Beijing in the years preceding the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, whilst more recently Chen coached Scarlett Mew-Jensen and Maria Papworth at the beginning of their careers. He will be sorely missed.”
Chen is the second elite coach from British diving to die in recent months. In October of last year, David Jenkins, who was a part of the coaching staff for British Diving at the 2020 Olympic Games, died away at 31.