The University of Minnesota Aquatic Center will play host to seven meets throughout the 2012-2013 season
The University of Minnesota made a huge splash in the collegiate diving world when it announced the hiring of one of the most respected and accomplished coaches in the world, Wenbo Chen, as its new head diving coach on April 16, 2009.
Chen served as the USA Diving head coach and associate director of USA Diving's National Training Center since 2005. He began his duties at the U of M on August 3 after completing the summer training program with USA Diving. Chen hit the ground running with the Gopher diving programs. U.S. Olympian Kelci Bryant transferred to Minnesota to work with her longtime coach and the training paid off. In just her first year with the Gophers, Bryant, led by Chen, won the 3-meter NCAA diving title. Bryant was only the second Gopher ever to win an NCAA event title and third overall in the program's history. Within the Big Ten, Chen was named the Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year, while Bryant was named the Big Ten Diver of the Year and Diver of the Championships when she captured both Big Ten diving springboard events.
Bryant was named to the U.S. Olympic Team for the second time for the London 2012 Olympic Games under Chen's guidance, where she and partner Abby Johnston won the Olympic silver medal in women's synchronized 3-meter diving. The medal was Team USA's first in the 12-year Olympic history of synchronized diving, which debuted at the 2000 Syndney games.
Prior to making the trip to England, Chen helped mold Maggie Keefer into an elite diver in 2012. Keefer was named the 2012 Big Ten Diver of the Championships, before claiming All-America honors in all three of her events at the NCAA Championships, including a fifth-place showing in 1 meter springboard.
On the men's side, Minnesota diving took another leap forward when Drew Brown and Kristoffer Jorgensen qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championships. It was the first time Minnesota qualified two divers for the NCAA meet since 1991 when Scott Upper and Omar Boyd qualified for the Gophers and both earned All-America honors. The 2010 season also marked the first time a Minnesota diver qualified for NCAAs since 2007. At the Big Ten meet, both Brown, Jorgensen and Jepsen were all Big Ten point getters at the 2010 conference championship. Brown was a finalist in all three events at the Big Ten Championships, while under the guidance of Chen.
During his time with USA Diving, Chen guided 15 senior national champions, 12 junior national champions and two world cup medalists in addition to three Olympians. Prior to arriving in Indianapolis, Chen served in several key coaching roles, including a four-year tenure as the head coach at Purdue (2001-05) and seven years as a coach with the Chinese National Team and the Chinese Olympic Training Camp (1985-92).
Chen was named assistant coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for diving after three of his divers were named to the squad - Haley Ishimatsu on 10-meter and synchronized 10-meter, and Kelci Bryant and Ariel Rittenhouse in synchronized 3-meter.
In 2007, Chen served as a USA coach at the World Championships and Pan American Games as well as several other international meets. His divers claimed four of the seven U.S. medals won at the 2007 Pan Am Games, highlighted by silver medals from Ishimatsu on 10-meter and Bryant/Rittenhouse in synchronized 3-meter. He was also a coach at the 2008 World Cup in Beijing, where Bryant and Rittenhouse won a bronze medal in synchro.
His divers also won three national championships in 2007, most notable being Ishimatsu's win on 10-meter at the Speedo USA Diving Spring National Championships when the then-14-year-old defeated 2000 Olympic gold medalist Laura Wilkinson to win on 10-meter title. Ishimatsu's older sister, Tory, won junior national titles on 1-meter and 3-meter in 2007 and won the 1-meter gold at the 2007 Junior Pan American Championships.
In 2006, Chen was selected as a coach for the FINA World Cup, where the U.S. won five medals for its best World Cup performance since 1988. Bryant and Rittenhouse paired for a silver medal.
Prior to moving to the National Training Center, Chen was the head diving at Purdue University from 2001-2005. Among Chen's divers at Purdue was Carrie McCambridge, a Big Ten Diver of the Year and three-time conference champion and the second diving All-American in school history, which she accomplished four times. He was also the 2004 Big Ten Women's Diving Coach of the Year.
From 1996-2001, Chen coached at Moss Farms Diving in Moultrie, Ga., where he guided a number of national champions - including Bryant's older sister Katie Beth, who was a two-time senior national champion and NCAA All-American. Many of Chen's divers represented the United States in World Championships and other international competitions, both at the junior and senior level.
Chen's coaching timeline in North America began in 1992 when he became the head coach of the Edmonton Diving Club where he served for three years. He moved to Georgia to be an assistant coach at Moss Farms Diving for two seasons prior to taking over as the head coach. He also spent the 1998 season as the interim head coach at Florida State University.
Chen immigrated to the U.S. from China in 1992. Before leaving his native country, he served as a national team coach from 1983-1991 and coached six Olympic medalists, including two-time gold medalists Ni Xiong and Ming Gao, and many national champions.
As a diver, he won a junior national title on 3-meter in 1976 and from 1977-1982, he was a finalist at the senior national level. Chen earned a bachelor's degree in physical education at Beijing Sports University in 1987.
Chen and his wife, Wenyin Han, have two daughters, Amy (18) and Annie (9).