When he first appeared at the Voronezh Children’s Sports School at the age of seven, no one could have imagined that this youngster would one day reign as the Czar of Diving. Although physically strong and fearless, he was very inflexible and didn’t know how to swim. Yet Tatiana Starodubtseva, the school’s diving coach saw in him the courage, perseverance and determination that would make him one of the greatest divers in the history of the sport.
Dmitry Sautin’s steep climb up the international sports ladder began in 1991, when he won silver for the Soviet Union on the 10-meter platform event at the European Championships, in Athens, Greece, at the age of 17. But later that same year Dmitry was brutally attacked on a street in Moscow. He was stabbed numerous times in his legs and body and almost bled to death before reaching the hospital. But true to his grit, discipline and determination, he fought back and by the summer of 1992, against all odds, he won the bronze medal behind Hall of Famers Mark Lenzi and Tan Liangde on the 3-meter springboard at the summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
For the next ten years, if he was healthy and having his way, no one was going to beat Dmitry Sautin in either the platform or 3-meter springboard events. At 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds, with close-cropped sandy hair, and raw acrobatic ability, Sautin spun and twisted like a top - and ripped into the water with machine-like precision without a splash. He relished the comparisons to his idol, Greg Louganis. Where Greg was graceful and artistic, Dmitry was dynamic and powerful.
Dmitry Sautin began diving from the 10-meter platform at age nine, and the beating his body took from the thousands of practice dives from 33 feet above the water, took its toll. For over two decades, he overcame injuries to his wrists, shoulder and back to compete in a multitude of events, including the European Championships, the FINA World Championships, and the Olympic Games, between the years of 1992 and 2008. Sautin won his first Olympic gold medal on the 3-meter springboard in Atlanta in 1996, but the highlight of his career would arguably have to be the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney Australia. These were the first games where synchronized diving was added to the Olympic program, raising the number of diving events from two to four for both men and women. Sautin received medals in all four events, winning individual gold on the 10-meter platform, bronze on the 3-meter springboard, gold again on the 10-meter synchronized event with partner, Igor Lukashin and silver on the 3-meter synchronized event with partner, Aleksandr Dobroskok.
In a career remarkable for it’s longevity, Dmitry Sautin competed in ten European Championships, six FINA World Championships, and five Olympic Games, winning a total of 20 gold medals, six silver and nine bronze. His eight Olympic medals are the most by any male diver in history.