China’s Zhang Yanquan and Cao Yuan won 10m platform diving gold on Monday after Britain’s Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield fell from the top spot and out of the medals following a botched fourth dive.
The Chinese teenagers tallied 486.78 points from their six dives to win the event from Mexio’s Ivan Navarro and German Sanchez, who took silver, and bronze medalists David Boudia and Nicholas McCrory of the US.
Cao, 17, and Zhang, 18, who won both the Beijing and Moscow legs of this year’s world series, and also triumphed in February’s test event, claimed gold on their Olympic debuts.
It leaves China, seeking the first sweep of eight Olympic diving titles, with two golds from the opening two events after Wu Minxia claimed her third synchronized 3m springboard Olympic victory alongside partner He Zi on Sunday.
Cao said he hopes Chinese divers go on to sweep the medals having won seven from eight at the Bejing Games four years ago and 10 from 10 at last year’s world championships.
“We’re very happy. Coming from China, of course, we hope we can win more medals,” Cao said. “If we are strong at diving, it comes from good coaching, diving every day and hard work. Nothing more.”
Daley has said Chinese divers crack when put under pressure, but Cao said they had proved him wrong.
“It’s only Tom who thinks that we might crumble, I never feel like that,” Cao said. “We never look at other divers during competition, we just focus on ourselves.”
A mistake on their fourth dive cost British pin-up Daley and his partner dearly as they surrendered their lead to finish the round, and ultimately the competition, in fourth.
“We had the highest score we have ever got after the first three, but at this level of competition you can’t afford to miss a single dive,” said Daley, who will also compete in Friday’s individual platform.
Waterfield later admitted it was his mistake which cost the pair dearly, but Daley refused to point the finger of blame.
“We’re a team, that’s it, full stop,” said the 18-year-old, who wants to win a medal in honor of his father, who died from cancer in May. “You win as a team and you lose as a team.”
Having won a silver in the same event at the 2004 Athens Games, Waterfield admitted he was bitterly disappointed.
“It’s the worst place to finish at an Olympics, I’d rather finish last than fourth,” Waterfield said. “We gave it a good go — our last two rounds were really good — but just not enough.”
With ear-splitting support from the home crowd, the Britons had tied China’s Cao and Zhang for the lead after the first dive, then they pulled clear of the Chinese to establish a narrow advantage in the second and third.
However, a mistake in their execution of the fourth dive, a reverse three-and-a-half somersault with a tuck, handed China a lead which they never relinquished.
The Chinese consolidated their lead in the fifth round, then made sure of gold with a near-perfect score of 99.36 for their final pike dive.