In a somewhat predictable, but nonetheless still thrilling result, the Chinese diving team reigned supreme this weekend at the FINA/Midea Diving World Series in Dubai. After collected four golds from four finals on the first night, China again proved their dominance of world diving by taking the final four events tonight.
In the first final of the evening, the women’s 3m springboard synchro, Wu Minxia showed her composure and experience, coming from behind to take the gold. She started slowly with a relatively low scoring dive which put her in fifth place, but showed her mettle by gradually building throughout the competition to take first place with her last dive. She top scored with her second last dive, collecting 81.00 points. Wu took gold by the smallest of margins, edging out countrywoman He Zi by just .70 of a point on her last dive, for China to take gold and silver.
Tania Cagnotto of Italy sat in third for most of the competition and couldn’t quite catch He, missing silver by 20.4 to take the bronze, but was delighted with her medal. “I don’t really think about the Chinese, they are so good so I am really happy with what I’ve done” she said.
Laura Sanchez of Mexico started with a solid dive but couldn’t get into the medals. She was pushed all the way by Christina Loukas of the US. Loukas, who took silver in the 3m springboard synchro with partner Kassidy Cook last night, could not maintain her medal winning form tonight and finished in fifth 1.5 points behind Sanchez. Canada’s Jennifer Abel had another disappointing night, after finishing fifth in the 3m springboard synchro she could not produce her best and faded to sixth place.
China continued their domination of the competition with a solid win in the next event, the men’s 3m springboard synchro final. The pairing of Qin Kai and Luo Yutong were never bested, going straight into top spot and staying there throughout the competition. Their only dive which was not the highest scoring was in round 4 when the Ukrainian pair of Oleksyi Prygorov and Illya Kvasha performed the top dive of the night, scoring 91.20 points.
The Ukranians recovered from a low scoring first dive to settle into second place, only being edged into third by the surprising performance of Mexico’s Yahel Castillo and Julian Sanchez on the last dive. The Mexicans performed well throughout the session, and were delighted to take the silver. Castillo said “We haven’t been diving together long, this is only the third or fourth time we have competed together and we are very happy and surprised to get the silver”.
Germany’s Patrick Hausding and Stephan Feck could not quite meet the standard required to be in the medals and had to settle for fourth. The Russian pair of Illya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov improved with each dive but gave the rest of the field too much of a start and finished fifth, 3.26 points ahead of Great Britain’s Nicholas Baker Robinson and Christopher Mears.
In the next final, the women’s 10m platform synchro, Chen Ruolin and Wang Hao showed diving fans in Dubai why they are world champions with a resounding win. They performed the best dives of each and every round, to stay in the number 1 position throughout the competition.
The battle for the minor medals caught the crowd’s attention though, with three teams battling it out for silver and bronze. Malaysian pairing of Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Mun Yee Leong were able to put it together when it counted and edged out Canada’s Meaghan Benefieto and and Roseline Filion by just .42 of a point to take the silver. Early challengers Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco were neck and neck with the Chinese team until they dropped away with their third dive, and even a solid last dive was not enough to put them back in the medals, missing out by .87 of a point.
Germany’s Christin Steuer and Nora Subschinski were only 6.56 points behind in fifth, with Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow of Great Britain finishing in sixth and Ukrainians Iuliia Prokopchuk and Viktoriya Potyekhina in seventh.
The men’s 10m platform final provided a suitably dramatic finish for the event with the battle of the teenage sensations Qiu Bo and Tom Daley taking centre stage. After qualifying second for the final, crowd favourite Daley of the UK was carrying the weight of expectation that he would be the one and only diver to break the Chinese dominance of the entire competition. After taking top spot with his first dive, and Qiu Bo of China taking third after David Boudia, Qiu kicked it up a gear and went into first where he stayed for the remainder fo the competition. Daley was unable to break his hold and finished in second by almost 30 points.
The teenagers did not have it all their own way however, with the US’s David Boudia producing the highest scoring dive of the night with a 105.45 in the third round, to eventually take the bronze by a convincing margin from Russian Victor Minibaev. The US’ Nick McCrory could not repeat his performance in the semi finals and faded to fifth ahead of Sascha Klein of Germany.
Daley was very positive about his result, saying “I have a lot of room to improve in some of my dives, I will just keep working on that, I know I can get there”. “Qui Bo is a very strong diver and is doing well every single competition, but I will just keep working on some of my mistakes and work to get myself closer to getting 10s, and train towards perfection, and to Qui Bo”.
Despite winning gold Qui Bo is well aware that he is the target of the other divers, saying “I made some mistakes tonight and I will head back to China and work harder, especially on my reverse dives” he said. “I think the pressure is good for me, it makes me work so I get to the point where I can win every time. I will pay less attention to the pressure and more to my performance and training”.
“This has been a wonderful weekend of world class diving and we are thrilled to have had the best in the world compete here in our very first diving competition in the UAE” said Dr Ahmed Al Sharif, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council. “It has been a great introduction to diving for Dubai and we hope to see the divers back here again soon” he added.
Ahmed Al Falasi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation was also delighted with the competition saying “We are very fortunate to have experienced such amazing competition, and I hope that this will be the beginning of the development of diving in Dubai”. “We have enjoyed hosting these teams of very talented athletes and we look forward to seeing them compete here again” he added.
FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu was full of praise for the event organizers. “Yet again Dubai has hosted a wonderful competition” he said. “This venue is fantastic, one of the best in the world, and the organizing committee have once again put on a successful event which we have all enjoyed. Thank you, Dubai”.
The divers now head to Beijing for the next round of the FINA/Midea World Diving Series next week, where it is certain that the competition will again be tough as the best divers in the world go head to head again.