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DWS 2012, Dubai: China dominates on Day 1

Diving World Series

Chen Ruolin (CHN) in actionThe world’s best divers demonstrated their talent and breath-taking skills tonight in the Day 1 finals of the FINA/Midea Diving World Series in Dubai. An appreciative 2000 strong crowd witnessed the first ever diving competition in Dubai and watched the Chinese dominance of diving continue with the star studded team taking all four gold medals on offer.

In the first event, the men’s 3m springboard final the World Champion He Chong did not disappoint with a convincing win over Illya Zakharov of Russia with He’s countryman Qin Kai third. He Chong started a little slowly with an uncharacteristic 75.00 point first dive, but quickly regained form and was never headed, remaining in first place throughout the competition.

The battle for the minor medals was not so clear cut with the positions changing regularly. Mexico’s Yahel Castillo would be disappointed to miss a medal after sitting in second place coming into the fifth round, but a strong performance from eventual silver medalist Zakharov saw him post the highest score of the final with a 93.60 in the fifth round which reversed the placings and pushed Castillo out of the medals. China’s Qin Kai was trying to make it a one-two for China, but even a 93.10 point fifth dive couldn’t lift him above third. After leading after the first round Evgeny Kuznetsov could not maintain the consistency required and finished in fifth, with USA’s Troy Dumais paying dearly for a poor last dive finishing sixth.

When asked later how he felt about the competition, He said “I am very happy to have performed like this with only 2 days training here. I will be competing in all the series as this competition is very good preparation for the Olympics.

The second final, the women’s 3m springboard synchro saw the Chinese champion duo of Wu Minxia and He Zi take centre stage with a solid performance which saw them take the top spot form the first dive and stay there throughout the competition. The USA’s Christina Loukas and Kassidy Cook overcame a slow start to take the silver medal with the Ukrainan pair of Anna Pysmenska and Olena Fedorova recovering from a low scoring third dive to regain and hold third place. Italy’s Fancesca Dallape and Tania Cagnotto held onto fourth while Canada’s Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel would have been disappointed to slip from second to fifth with a low scoring fifth dive which cost them on synchro points. They pulled out a solid last dive but missed fourth by just .90 points. The German team of Katja Dieckow and Uschi Frietag rose to third at one stage but were never really in the medal hunt.

He Chong (CHN)
He Chong (CHN)

The men’s 10m platform synchro final featuring crowd favourites Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield of the UK had the crowd mesmerized as they witnessed s a stunning display of skill. The Chinese partnership of Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan showed their dominance with a flawless display which earned them the first and only 10 of the evening. They immediately took the top spot and never relinquished it, even in the face of some spectacular diving from the other teams.

Speaking at the press conference afterwards, Cao Yuan said “We don’t think about the other teams, we only focus on what we have to do”. Clearly this works for them and the crowd’s vocal support for the UK team did not concern them. Daley and Waterfield were in second place after two dives but dropped to sixth with their third dive. A superb 89.10 score in the next round was the best of the round and pulled them back into third but they could not repeat that and the next two dives saw them edged out of fourth by a mere 1.44 points.

The Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gorshkovozov and Oleksandr Bondar performed strongly and their consistency saw them move into second place in round two, and stay there for the remainder of the competition. Illya Zakharov backed up from his silver in the 3m springboard to pair with Victor Minibaev to take the bronze. After a hesitant start the pair gradually increased their placing and to just edge ahead of Daley and Waterfield in the last round, who in turn managed to stay ahead of Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein by a mere .33 of a point.

The USA team of David Boudia and  Nick McCrory started strongly and looked to be challenging for the minor medals until poor dives in the fourth and sixth rounds put them out of contention, finishing sixth. The Mexican pair of Ivan Garcia and German Sanchez were outclassed and despite a strong dive in the sixth round they sat in seventh place for the whole competition.

Wu Minxia and He Zi (CHN)
Wu Minxia and He Zi (CHN)

The last final of an action packed evening was the women’s 10m platform, and the crowd was treated to the most nail biting session with the competition going down to the wire. Mexico’s Paola Espinosa looked to be the strongest chance yet to break the Chinese domination, with some brilliant dives which took her to within .40 of Chinese champion Chen Roulin going into the last dive. While she produced a solid last dive Chen made no mistakes and took the gold with a mere 3.60 margin. Malaysian sensation Pandelela Pamg also challenged hard and produced some great dives to secure third place, ahead of the UKs Tonia Couch who also looked to be in the medals for much of the session. Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito dived will, producing the best dive of the session with an 87.45 in the fifth round but couldn’t push her way into the medals, finishing fifth.

Tiny Hu Yadan could not follow up a great semi final this morning, and faded to sixth after missing her second dive and dropping down the leader board.

Paola Espinosa said later “I am happy to have come so close to the Chinese, and that my hard work with my coach is paying off. This series helps with my training and gives me confidence for the Olympics.” “I still want to improve and I believe we are getting closer to the Chinese and anything can happen, I just need to focus on my strengths and concentrate on getting better”.

FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu is on hand to experience the first diving competition in Dubai and is full of praise for the venue and for the vision of the organizers. “I want to thank the UAE Swimming Federation and the Dubai Sports Council for staging this competition, this is an amazing venue and I believe it sets a great example to all other countries of what can be done” he said.

“This pool in one of a kind with the fully equipped warm up and competition facilities for diving and I know the divers are enjoying being here” he added. “It is a real pleasure for me to be in Dubai for the third FINA event at this venue, and I am sure it will be another great success”.

“We are very excited about welcoming the competitors and teams to this first ever diving event in Dubai at the wonderful Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex” said Ahmed al Falasi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation. “The standard of diving is world class, and as we have seen today, the crowd will be treated to some amazing displays of talent and skill” he added.

From a Press Release by Sarah Marks