Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - Page 20 News List

China’s bid for clean sweep of diving golds gathers pace

AFP, SHANGHAI, CHINA

China’s He Min competes in the men’s 1m springboard final at the FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

China doubled their gold medal haul at the world championships’ diving events yesterday as their bid for an historic clean sweep quickly gathered pace.

Chen Ruolin and Wang Hao dominated the women’s 10m platform synchro, shortly after Li Shixin and He Min’s brave one-two in the men’s 1m springboard, giving China all four diving titles so far.

Chen won her third straight world title in the event after amassing 362.58 points with Wang, with Australian Olympic silver medalist Melissa Wu and Alexandra Croak second, and Germany’s Christin Steuer and Nora Subschinski third.

“I think the top three teams all could have won, it just depends on who performs the best,” Chen said. “I never think too much during the competition, or my performance will be affected.”

After three days of competition, China have won not only every title, but also every heat at Shanghai’s open-air Crescent Lagoon venue, putting them on course to become the first country to win all 10 diving gold medals.

In the men’s event, Li Shixin stormed back from a ragged third dive to clinch first place, while compatriot He Min clawed his way from fourth to second spot, leap-frogging Germany’s Pavlo Rozenberg with his very last plunge.

Li’s messy entry on the third of his six dives, a reverse 2.5 somersault in the pike position, looked to open the door to Rozenberg, but the 23-year-old nailed his last three dives to finish with 463.90 points.

Meanwhile, He saved his best for last as he pulled off a precision inward 2.5 somersault in the pike for 81.60 points, pushing Rozenberg into the bronze medal position.

The climax of the competition was briefly interrupted when Mexico’s Daniel Islas crashed his right foot painfully against the board during his final dive. He left the pool deck in a wheelchair.

“I believe I didn’t perform all that well at first because I was a bit nervous, but in the later dives I started to relax,” said Li, who cheekily gave a victory salute after only four dives.

“I showed the victory gesture because I didn’t want people to see I was nervous,” he said.

Russian synchronized swimming queen Natalia Ishchenko added to her bulging world title collection in the evening’s technical duets, a day after clinching the solo crown for the third time in succession.

Ishchenko won her 13th world title after collecting 98.200 points with partner Svetlana Romashina. China’s Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou took silver, with Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes third.

Water polo is also under way at the 16-day, biennial championships, with the blue riband swimming events starting on Sunday.

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