The Chinese team have again proven they are the undisputed champions of world diving, after another clean sweep of the gold medals in the first round of the FINA/NVC Diving World Series in Beijing last weekend.
But with the 2015 FINA World Championships just a few months away, the competition this weekend in round two in Dubai will be one of the toughest yet.
The Chinese will again boast a spectacular line up of World and Olympic Champions including the man who dazzled the crowds with the first ever perfect dive performed in Dubai during last year’s FINA/NVC Diving World Series, 10m marvel Qiu Bo, along with 3m specialist, Olympic gold medallist and five time World Champion He Chong. Also in the line-up are dual Olympic gold medallist and holder of six world championship crowns in the 3m and 3m synchro events, and at 29, the veteran of the team Qin Kai; as well as 10m synchro Olympic gold medallist Cao Yuan.
Arriving in Dubai this week are 69 divers from 14 countries, and while none were able to topple the Chinese in Beijing, there will be no easy paths to the top of the podium as the divers shape up for round two which runs from 19-21 March at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
China were denied gold on only a handful of occasions in the 2014 Diving World Series, but each year the gap between the Chinese and the rest of the world is diminishing and the divers who have triumphed over them in the past will be looking for a repeat performance in Dubai.
In last year’s dramatic 10m men’s platform final, Qiu Bo had the crowd on their feet after performing a perfect dive and seemed certain to take the gold, but a poor dive in the next round and a consistent performance from Victor Minibaev saw the Russian triumph. In the 3m synchro another consistently good performance from German duo Stephan Feck and Patrick Hausding gave them the gold ahead of Cao Yuan and Lin Yue.
In the Moscow leg of the 2014 World Series Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov took gold in the 3m and the 3m synchro with Illya Zakharov, while in the last leg of the series in Monterrey, Mexico, Patrick Hausding again relegated He Chong to the minor medals in the 3m, while Meaghan Benfeito won the 10m ahead of Liu Huixia.
With Kvasha, Zakharov, Hausding and Britain’s Jack Laugher, who came third overall in the 2014 Diving World Series in the 3m in the line-up next week, He Chong will have to draw on all his experience to secure the gold.
The men’s 10m is again shaping up as the event not to be missed, with Qiu Bo up against crowd favourite Tom Daley of Great Britain. Daley finished third overall in the Diving World Series last year, but missed a medal in Dubai and in the World Cup, finishing fourth on both occasions. However he is in great form and with the crowd behind him is a favourite to win. Along with Qiu Bo, and in the absence of Minibaev who is competing in the synchro event, Daley’s biggest rivals will be Olympic Champion David Boudia of USA, Jian Yang of China, Sascha Klein of Germany and Ivan Garcia of Mexico. Klein took bronze in the 2013 World Championships while Garcia was third behind Jian and Qiu in the 2014 World Cup.
“We are looking forward to another thrilling competition this year. With the World Championships in a few months all the divers will be doing their absolute best to be selected for their countries and prove that they are the one to beat” said Ahmed Al Falasi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation.
“The quality of the competition is superb and we encourage everyone to come out and see a World Championships standard field. With so much at stake the competition is going to be the toughest we have witnessed in Dubai” he added.
The 2015 FINA/NVC Diving World Series event consists of six legs and kicked off in Beijing on 13-15 March, then travels to Dubai, Kazan, London, Windsor (Canada) before the last leg in Merida (Mexico) on 29-31 May. Divers compete for points and prize money at each of the ten events, in the categories of 3 meter springboard and 10 meter platform in solo, synchro and mixed synchro diving.
In a new addition this year there will be competition for mixed teams in the 3m springboard synchro and 10m platform synchro. These events have been included in the diving competition at the FINA World Championships this year for the first time, so teams will be using the Diving World Series to perfect their performances as they aim to become the first World Champions in this discipline.
The event runs over three days, starting with the 10m platform synchro finals on Thursday 19 March from 10-12noon, followed by the opening ceremony at 5pm and 3m springboard synchro finals from 6-8pm. Friday’s 3m individual springboard semi-finals session runs from 10-12noon, with the finals from 5-7pm. The final day of competition on Saturday 21 March sees the 10m platform semi-finals from 10-12noon, followed by the finals from 5-7pm.
Tickets to catch all the action at the FINA/NVC Diving World Series will be available at the door at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Emirates Road. Tickets are 40dhs per day for general entry, and children under 12 are free.