Diving day 1 - Wu enters in Olympic history

London 2012 Diving

altMinxia Wu and Zi He from China were the first Olympic champions in 2012 after winning the final of the women's 3m springboard in the Aquatics Centre. Leading from the very first dive until the end of the competition, the Chinese pair concluded with a total 346.20 points, much ahead of silver medallists Abigail Johnston and Kelci Bryant (USA, 321.90) and third-place finisher Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel (CAN, 316.80). This success represents the fifth Olympic medal for Wu, who won this event also in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 at the time together with diving legend Jingjing Guo. Moreover, Wu has two other Olympic individual awards: the silver in the 3m springboard in the Hellenic capital and the bronze in the same event at the "Water Cube". She is now the second best female diver in Olympic history, only behind Guo (four gold and two silver). Besides, she is the only female diver obtaining three consecutive Olympic crowns – a feat only obtained in the men's field by Klaus Dibiasi (ITA) in the 10m platform (in 1968, 1972 and 1976).

Very concentrated and regular throughout the five-dive final, Wu had already been successful with He in the final of the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai (CHN). At FINA's major competitions and since 2001 in Fukuoka, she has accumulated 12 medals. For Zi He, this was her first Olympic success.

"We competed well together today", said Wu. "We knew the competition would be tough. I have a great feeling because we work hard and this is an excellent reward", she continued. Recalling the good times with Guo, Wu said: "She was a good partner, we were very synchronised, we communicated well and worked well together."

With the Chinese pair clearly above the rest of the field, the "real" fight was reserved for the minor medals. Johnston and Bryant, the US team, also proved to be in a good shape and stayed behind the leaders all the way through the final. They didn't make any major mistake, securing their silver medal since the second round of dives. It was the first medal for the North Americans in Olympic diving since the gold of Laura Wilkinson in the 10m platform in Sydney 2000 and the first ever in synchronised events (introduced precisely in the Games organised in Australia 12 years ago). For both Johnston and Bryant, this was their first success at Olympic level.

More thrilling was the uncertainty concerning the bronze medal. Italy's Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape seemed to be in the right direction until the end of the third round but a huge problem of synchronisation totally spoiled their fourth attempt (forward 2 ½ somersault 1 twist, pike – DD 3.0), for which they obtained a poor 63.90. That was the opportunity so much cherished by the Canadian pair Emilie Heymans/Jennifer Abel to enter in the podium "area". Fourth after round 3, they then scored 74.70 in the fourth round and went up one position. The fifth and last round only confirmed that status quo, with the Italians being slightly better (71.10) than the Canadians (68.40), but not enough to reverse the outcome of their major upset in round 4. For "veteran" Heymans, this was her fourth Olympic medal, after climbing the podium in 2000 (silver 10m synchro), in 2004 (bronze also in the 10m synchro) and 2008 (silver in the individual 10m platform). She has also three medals from FINA World Championships. For Abel, this was her first Olympic appearance on the podium.

The Canadian pair's medal was the first in these Games for the entire Canadian delegation (all sports included). "It's really great and I hope it inspires the athletes to do well and to do their best. It's always fantastic when you see a teammate winning a medal and how happy they are and how much they worked for it. It can give energy and inspire the other Canadian athletes", Heymans confessed. On her partnership with Abel: "It has worked really well because we have the same values and we have the same goals and we really wanted to make it work. We both invested a lot in synchronised diving and that's why it went well."

For Italy, this fourth place has a bitter taste, as it spoiled one occasion to finally consecrate one female diver at Olympic level. In the men's field, the Italians have a bright history at the Games but never a woman has been on an Olympic podium. Cagnotto had accomplished this "première" at World Championships' level when she medalled in the 2005 edition in Montreal (CAN) but her country will continue without any reference in the list of female Olympic medallists – unless Cagnotto rectifies the situation in the individual 3m springboard event…

"We felt good, but dives are like that, it was not such a terrible mistake. I didn't expect to miss the podium by just two points, it's so upsetting. Now we take a day to let go off the disappointment and then I will concentrate on the 3m springboard", considered Cagnotto. Her father and coach Giorgio, winner of four Olympic medals, was also disillusioned: "It's not the end of the world, there is a bit of frustration for these mistakes that should not be there, but things happen. We exposed our weak side, we made some mistakes, and we paid for it". On the possibilities of Tania in the individual event, he concluded: "Maybe a bit of anger and need for personal vindication will help. Tomorrow we will rest and then we will see".