John David Pahoyo, a top diver from the Philippines, approached the diving board, bounced twice, and sprung himself into the air.
It was the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, a perfect place for Pahoyo to display his diving prowess alongside other top athletes from his region.
In midair, Pahoyo leaned back, tucked his legs, and began a high-speed twisting backflip.
And then this happened:
You don’t have to be an Olympic judge to know divers aren’t supposed to enter the water feetfirst.
Pahoyo’s teammate, John Elmerson Fabriga, hadn’t done much better in his dive that day either, landing flat on his back:
After the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, the pair’s dives went viral, for all the wrong reasons.
ESPN called them “the two worst high dives you will ever see.”
One video of the hilariously awful performance on Facebook got over 2.5 million views.
And now, in the midst of the 2016 Olympics games in Rio, Pahoyo and Fabriga still can’t seem to escape the (mostly good-natured) ribbing.
But if you think Pahoyo and Fabriga are hiding under a rock somewhere until this all blows over, you’d be mistaken.
OK, we all agree that these dives are hilarious. But at a certain point, the mockery has to be devastating for these guys, right?
They’re actually being great sports about the whole thing.
Shortly after the initial performance in 2015, Pahoyo posted about it on Facebook. He knew his dives didn’t go super well.
“This was the first time I felt this great intense pressure. Hooo, one event is over. One more to go. I failed one dive and the rest of my dives were sh***ier than what i did during the training. But at least it was a nice experience. Great crowd, great people. I can actually tell myself that i overcame the extraordinary“
Later, in response to a video of his performance, he commented:
“I even laughed at myself after i did this dive hehe. but after all this was not the first time i failed a dive, and i was not the first one who did so. And I am still proud because not all of us has the privilege to represent our own country to such a big sporting event like this. And by the way can i ask all of you if you can still smile after getting embarrassed in front of thousands of people? hehe just asking, right?”
And you know what? He’s totally right.
There’s no shame in failing when you try your best. And the fact that these two men can laugh at themselves in the face of an embarrassment that, let’s face it, would crush most of us…
Well, I don’t think it’s going too far to say that, while they might not be championship athletes, they are still tremendous role models.
Oh, and while the internet was just catching on to Pahoyo’s and Fabriga’s “epic fails,” the two were busy training for their next event.
Agustin Fuentes, Ph.D., wrote for Psychology Today, “Failing at something acts to demonstrate limitations, to force us to rethink or reevaluate how we do things, and to learn how to do them better. It adds a road block, ups the ante, and makes us use our brain, cooperate, and get creative with the world.”
Two days and a few extra practices later, the duo from the Philippines competed in a synchronized diving event at the same games.
This time, they nailed it.
(OK, so it still wasn’t good enough for a medal, but it was definitely an improvement they could be proud of.)
These two may not have made it to Rio this year, but it looks like they got the last laugh after all.