London 2012, Day 2: Ruolin Chen (CHN) sweeps 10m platform
Day 2 of the FINA Visa Diving World Cup saw a record 59 participants taking part in the men's 3m springboard preliminary which lasted four hours. The biggest problem in such situation is to remain focused till the end of the competition. In general, all favourites are able to do this – except one this time: Russia's World silver and bronze medallist (in 3m synchro and individual) Eugeny Kuznetsov made a terrible mistake in his twist dive in the middle of the programme – 2.5 Forward with 3 twists. His poor performance cost him precious spots, dropping him to 39th place. His last three rounds were devoted to efforts to rise higher in the standings. Kuznetsov eventually succeeded to finish in 20th position but this wasn’t enough to join the semi final.
The event ended with the two Olympic champions Kai Qin and Chong He from China taking first and second, respectively. Jack Laugher (GBR), fifth, looked like the only newcomer among the first eight but fully deserves to be “in the club” following his remarkable performance.
This morning, the “platform girls” were on track for medals and Olympic qualification. Chinese great Ruolin Chen and Yadan Hu were leading the group but as the competition unfolded, it became evident that the second is not in top shape: she finished 34.45 points behind her compatriot.
The women’s 10m platform final was as usual unpredictable and emotional. The surprise in the semi final came from two experienced divers: Meaghan Benfeito (CAN), who presented one of the most complicated free programme, finished 13th (that made her first reserve diver for the final) and bronze medallist from the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games Loudy Wiggins (AUS) took 14th.
The fourth place occupied by fresh face Carolina Mendoza (MEX) was a big and pleasant surprise: the newcomer showed good psychological resistance even in the preliminaries. She made a mistake in her semi final armstand dive (she failed to fix the armstand position from the first attempt) which cost her a 2-points penalty from every judge.
The first of five rounds concluded with an excellent 3.5 Forward Pike remarkably performed by Ruolin Chen (CHN). She got 81.00 points while Yadan Hu and Noemi Batki (ITA) collected 76.50 points for the same forward combination.
The battle for gold played out between the two Chinese favourites in the next round: Yadan Hu delivered an outstanding 3.5 Inward in tucked position and went ahead of Chen with a 13.10-point advantage. That was a real sensation: marks over 85 points are not seen very often in women’s contests. And Yadan Hu got 86.40.
An interesting fact was that neither Chen nor Hu had the most complicated dives. The highest degrees of difficulty were performed by Roseline Filion (CAN), Tatiana Ortiz (MEX) and Kim Un Hyang (PRK).
In the third round, Hu got the first perfect score of the women's competition for her 2 Armstand with 1.5 twists. But the celebration was short. Right after Chen performed the same dive, also receiving a 10 from the judges. The gap between the two increased by 14.70 points.
The final seemed to become the traditional Chinese-style competition where two divers are fighting for the gold and all the others (no matter how good their dives will be) are left to fight for the minor medal. Yulia Koltunova (RUS) was holding this third position until the fourth round but a mistake in her 3.5 Inward (tuck) dropped her to eighth place and Christin Steuer (GER) was well on her way to steal the bronze.
The fourth round saw another dramatic turn of events among the leaders. After the execution of a 3.5 Back, Chen took first with 322.05 points while Hu followed with a total score of 321.90.
The last round was all the more intense and remarkable: Koltunova, who was thought to have lost all chances to make the podium, delivered a brilliant 2.5 Back with 1.5 twists, made a flawless entry and re-captured the third spot. Chen increased her lead – more than eight points ahead of Hu, to sweep the gold.