YOG Singapore 2010, Day 10: Rain is no pain for unstoppable Jiao Liu (CHN)
It was theoretically not an easy final for Jiao Liu. The Chinese star had won the 10m platform in Day 1 of the diving programme at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex of these Youth Olympic Games, and surely wanted to demonstrate that she was the best female diver of the competition by triumphing also in the 3m springboard. Then, came the natural elements, a pouring rain during the final’s time, which is always something that disturbs in a variable extent the athletes. Finally, Liu was under the direct scrutiny of her compatriot and best female diver of history, China’s Jingjing Guo, witnessing the competition from the stands.
None of these “stressing” factors seemed to have disturbed the very solid Liu. During the preliminaries, it became obvious that the 16-year-old was above all the field. Finishing first in both the total of points and points carried forward to the final (those for dives with limited DD), Liu confirmed in the decisive four-dive stage that she had no real challengers in Singapore. With marks ranged between 7 and 8.5, the Chinese diver was the only of the 12 finallists to present a list of dives with a DD of at least 3.0. This coefficient together with flawless performances dictated an easy and comfortable win in 511.34, more than 67 (!) points ahead her most direct challenger, Malaysia’s Pandelela Pamg, also silver medallist in the 10m platform. "I had no particular feelings about diving in the rain. I just do everything normally, and doing well in my dives is enough for me," confessed Liu after her successful effort.
Pamg, second in the preliminaries, presented a more “modest” programme (dives between DD 2.4 and 2.8), but performed her four combinations in a solid manner. Without committing any major mistake, the Malaysian diver concluded with a total of 444.15. "Liu is very strong, and I am quite satisfied with my result," Pamg said. "My difficulty is not as high as hers."
As in the higher board, the fight for the third position was the most thrilling one, with four athletes – Pamela Ware (CAN), Viktoriya Potyekhina (UKR), Hannah Thek (AUS) and Elena Bertocchi (ITA) - in the “zone” of the bronze medal. In the end, and after several variations throughout the final, it was Potyekhina to earn the last award of the session, concluding in 433.55. The Ukrainian diver did not have the most demanding programme compared with her main competitors, but besides some hesitation in her second dive (a back 2 ½ somersault, pike position, DD 3.0), she was quite regular in the remaining three attempts of the final. Ware (fourth) was also quite solid, but had a four-point disadvantage in relation to the points carried forward from the preliminaries. Bertocchi (sixth) chose the easiest programme of these four athletes and was far from perfection in her second combination, while Thek (fifth) had a less convincing first dive. "I was glad that worked out, I pulled myself together to get the bronze medal," Potyekhina considered.
China's Jiao Liu - credit: Xinhua-Syogoc/Liu Jie
In 12th and last placed of the final, Pauline Ducruet (who landed on the back at the end of her third dive – a back 2 ½ somersault, tuck position), from Monaco, created the “social event” of the diving competition, when her uncle, Prince Albert II, and her mother, Princess Stéphanie, were in the stands of the pool, cheering her performances almost like a “normal” family.
Daley: from novice to mentor
Tom Daley (GBR) had said it when asked about his popularity and the buzz surrounding his participation at the Youth Olympic Games. While two years ago, in Beijing, he was the novice of the company, seeking advice from the “big ones”, in Singapore, he was in the role of the “big ones” providing tips and suggestions to the champions-to-be athletes.
At 16, and after his participation at the men’s 3m springboard (where he finished ninth, after skipping his pet event, the 10m platform, due to injury), Daley spoke about all aspects surrounding high-level competition, namely the media focus after a great performance – as it was the case with him, after winning, in 2009, the FINA World Championships title in the men’s 10m platform. “Don’t let it affect you or get to you. Just enjoy it, because if you start thinking about it too much, it can get to you," he confessed.
Daley also recalled how this victory in Rome (ITA) had practical effects in his daily life. "It was so strange having people come up to you in the street but it was really good fun. It’s hard to get used to, but you have to get used to it in the end. I know that the places I get to see and the things I get to do are just amazing," he added. Daley concluded by saying that one of the mot important secrets when you deal with fame and success is to remain grounded. "It’s very important," he said. "My brothers keep me very grounded, as they keep annoying me. I’m just a normal boy outside of diving. I remain myself and go and do my own thing. You don’t change anything for the media."
Malaysia's Pandelela Pamg - credit: Xinhua-Syogoc/Liu Lihang