As a 100-year-old, Taghi Askari stood on the edge of a platform with the water rippling below, preparing to dive at the 2024 World Aquatics Masters Championships in Doha. The Iranian had won medals at the first-ever Asian Games in 1951 and had never lost his passion for diving. His exhibition dive at the championships marked two weeks until the World Aquatics Masters Championships where he would be the oldest competitor.
“For me, I have had a love of diving since I was a teenager until today,” Askari told World Aquatics. “I have always loved diving. Nothing has changed between 1951 and now, except my performance!” He first encountered diving at a swimming pool near his childhood home in Iran where other children were somersaulting into the water.
Askari’s love of diving led him to win medals at national titles in Iran and also ignited his lifelong passion for the sport. “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 at least with a gold medal.”
The time since Askari began diving has seen huge changes in the sport. By 1974, when games were held in Tehran, Chinese swimmers had improved by leaps and bounds. “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.
Despite these changes, Askari remained determined to compete again and will be among those taking part in the World Aquatics Masters Championships – an event held shortly after the elite world championships open to participants aged over 25.