Golden double for China

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

credit: Giorgio ScalaThe 1m springboard competition exists in the FINA World Championships programme since 1991. It happened four times that divers from the same country got gold and silver in this event. And this country was always the same – China.

Curiously, the 1m springboard is an event where non-Chinese divers have better chances to fight for victory. Sometimes it looks like Chinese sport leaders don't pay much attention to this non-Olympic discipline. In Shanghai, for instance, the host country was represented neither with the reigning world champion in the men’s 1m event Qin Kai, nor with the 2007 world champion Luo Yutong : these two divers are preparing their participation in the 3m event. Therefore, the top places in the lowest board went to newcomers – Li Shixin and He Min.

The preliminary round was won by the Chinese with a comfortable advantage of 30 and 25 points over Javier Illana (ESP) but for them that wasn't a clean performance. Li Shixin made a serious mistake performing his 2.5 Reverse Pike (305B) and got just 48 points for the dive, while He Min missed the entry in 2.5 Back Tuck (205C), and only scored 43.50.

The preliminary mistakes were not important but they were a kind of reminder to the other divers: don't be relaxed – the leaders can do mistakes too.

The Olympic and world Champion Yulia Pakhalina from Russia once considered that the 1m event is a very dangerous one. You have no big height, no time to prepare for the entry, so the only way to perform with success is to be very concentrated in each dive.

Since then, 1m dives became more complicated. Li Shixin and He Min had similar free dives (total DD 19.1). Aaron Fleshner (USA) was the “record” holder in terms of the difficulty of his six dives: 19.3. He was the only finalist who included a 3.5 Forward Pike in his list of dives – all the others chose to do this combination in a tuck position.

Daniel Islas (MEX) included the most complicated twist dive to his programme – 2 somersaults reverse with 1.5 twists – quite strange (and unusual) diving combination (DD 3.4), as all the ones including a feet first entry are.

One could say that it was a mistake to perform such a dive: Daniel did it quite close to the springboard, his legs touched the board after the opening and he got zero points for this dive. But the young diver has assured his moment of glory: the diving world normally respects those who take a risk to be first in doing complicated dives.

Li Shixin got the lead after the first round and kept it until the very end of the competition. The key point of the final came after the third round. Li Shixin missed once more the 305B – as he did it in preliminaries. He still had the best total result but Pavlo Rosenberg (GER) was just three points behind.

He Min had failed earlier: in the second round, he got poor marks for the twist dive. This dropped him to the 7th position but the excellent execution of the next diving combination allowed his recovery to the third spot.

After the fourth round, Rosenberg was still quite close behind Li Shixin. But the fifth dive of the Chinese was fantastic: he got 81.60 and the distance between him and the German diver increased to 16.90. The last combination of the champion was executed also without any mistake. So did He Min. He overcame the score of 80 points just once (Li Shixin did it three times) but that was achieved in the last round and brought He Min the silver.

Rosenberg has never been on the world podium in this event (“just” a bronze medal at the Europeans). But his performance in Shanghai was a great example for everybody. The German diver wasn't “just diving”. In spite of the lack of difficulty, he was fighting in every dive and finally his bronze medal wasn't a surprise.

Pavlo Rosenberg (GER), Li Shixin (CHN) and He Min(CHN) - Credit: Giorgio Scala

Women 10m synchro
Chen Ruolin got her third World Championships victory. In 2007, she was diving with Tong Jia and the duo finished almost 40 points ahead of Melissa Wu/Briony Cole from Australia. In 2009, Chen Ruolin got a new partner (Xin Wang) and the advantage of the winners was over 44 points. In Shanghai, it was a kind of déjà-vu: as it happened in 2007 in Melbourne, Melissa Wu got the silver with a new partner – Alexandra Croak. As it happened also in Australia, the leaders’ advantage was again in the 40-point area. Finally, in the year preceding the Olympics, the Australians used this very first possibility to qualify for the Games in the 10m platform event.

So did the Germany team (Christin Steuer/Nora Subschinski). Tonia Couch/Sarah Barrow (GBR) took a very important fourth place. The host country has no reason to worry about the Olympic qualification, but the fourth position of the British duo in the world proved that the girls really deserve the place in the Olympic final. It is interesting to point out that all those four countries had concluded the preliminary round in the same order.