He Chong (CHN) wins, but Russia shines

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

The Russian divers Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov surprised the audience with their silver and bronze medals. Five-time world champion and Beijing gold medallist Qin Kai finished fourth. The gold went to the Olympic champion and world champion of 2009 in this event, He Chong.

Qin Kai had the best result in the preliminary event – 4.35 ahead of He Chong. In the semi-final, the Chinese divers changed the positions and their results were almost equal with the difference of 0.25. Zakharov had the third score both times. He was the most evident rival to the Chinese among all competitors because of the difficulty of his dives. The Degree of Difficulty of He Chong’s free programme totalled 20.3, while Qin Kai had 20.4. Zakharov had an impressive 21.5.

Kuznetsov's programme was also very difficult (20.9) but he didn't seem a potential medallist – in the preliminaries, he was sixth, and in the semi-final he finished seventh.

What does high DD mean can be explained by a simple example. As a forward dive, Qin Kai had 4.5 Somersaults Tuck (DD – 3.8) and He Chong 3.5 Somersaults Pike (DD – 3.1). For the execution, both got absolutely the same points in the preliminary round, but the total score was of 82.15 for He Chong and of 100.70 for Qin Kai.

Before the Wold Championships, He Chong was the only diver in the world who could executed a 2.5 Forward with 3 twists (DD – 3.9). In Shanghai, Zakharov became the second.

3m Springboard Podium - credit: Giorgio Scala
3m Springboard Podium - Credit: Giorgio Scala

One could say that Zakharov and Kuznetsov were just lucky in their first World Championships final: in the fifth final round, Qin Kai did a terrible mistake. While executing a 4.5 Forward his right hand slipped from his leg. The entry was terrible, and so were the marks. Qin Kai executed this dive exactly after Zakharov performed his “crazy twists” - 2.5 Forward with 3 twists. And got 97.50. That could explain the loss of concentration from the Chinese star.

Anyway, it was a great example for everybody on how to catch an opportunity. The last attempt of both Russians was wonderful. Zakharov got 85.50 for his 4.5 Forward, Kuznetsov scored 95.00 for the same dive.

“I feel very much sorry for Qin Kai,” said Zakharov. “I know well how terrible it is to ‘lose’ a leg in the air. I had the same experience a couple of years ago, diving from the 10m platform. It finished badly – I was taken to the hospital. But our sport is cruel. There are no friends during the competition. That’s why I’m just happy that I grabbed my chance in such a positive way”.