China: one step to go for the absolute record

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

Wu Minxia got the ninth gold medal for China and first for herself. It may sound strange but the four-time World Champion in synchronised diving never had a chance to won her individual medal. Every time since 2001 it was Guo Jingjing who captured gold so all that Wu Minxia gained individually for this period of time was one bronze and two silver medals.

Sometimes, it seems that diving as a sport has its own justice. In 1976, in Montreal, many people thought that Greg Louganis should be awarded with gold medal at 10m platform – but the victory was given to great Italian Claus Dibiasi. The 1976 Games were his last international competition and judges were perhaps more indulgent to the veteran than to the 16-year-old teenager.

The same kind of drama happened in Seoul. Louganis was about to finish his great career, after two Olympic gold in Los Angeles, one more in Seoul at 3m and was fighting for the fourth on the platform. A lot of people were sure that the gold medal should be given to Xiong Ni. But it went to Louganis. And this looked as a compensation for Montreal.

2011 3m springboard gold medal of Wu Minxia was definitely fair. He Zi – the other Chinese diver in this final – had equal chances to achieve victory. The newcomer showed the best performance in the preliminaries, then she finished third in the semi-final but just 2.60 behind her compatriot. She was young and ambitious and she was ready to fight to the end.

Wu Minxia was ready too. He Zi’s performance became more impressive in general: the young Chinese scored over 80 points three times, while Wu Minxia did it only once. But she was more stable. There wasn't any big mistake in Wu Minxia programme. But there was one missed dive by He Zi – she missed the entry while executing a 2.5 Back pike and got 58.50.

In the end, the difference between the two divers was of a mere 1.7. If Wu Minxia wouldn't have all her titles and so many years of diving glory, she probably could left second again as it happened so many times. But now, we can only guess how much the respect to the great diver in reflected in her marks.

The third place of the Canadian Jennifer Abel, who never had any medal at World Championships before Shanghai, looked also fair. Jennifer got silver in synchronised 3m springboard (together with her experienced partner Emilie Heymans). This medal was an outstanding achievement for the divers – Heymans got a serious injury last year and it was much more difficult for her to fight.

Abel delivered a very clean performance and her 15-points advantage over Christina Loukas (USA) was quite expressive. Four non-Chinese finalists managed to score over 70 points at least in one dive: Kelci Bryant (USA), Tania Cagnotto (ITA) and Laura Sanchez did it once, Christina Loukas (USA) two times, and Abel four times. The legendary USA diving coach Dick Smith (he left several years ago) said once: “If a diver is able to get a high score for one dive it means for me that he is able to get such marks for all other dives too. That is just a question of time”.

According to these words, there is a good chance to see much more interesting and tough fight among 3m female divers in nearest future.