Diving day 2 - China clinches 10m synchro title, Daley and Waterfield disappoint fans

London 2012 Diving

With just one silver (in cycling) and one bronze (in swimming, thanks to Rebecca Adlington) at the end of the first two days of their Games, the whole country was relying on the likes of Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield to perhaps get the first gold in London. Long before the start of the diving men's 10m platform synchronised event, thousands of spectators headed to the Aquatics Centre hoping for a home triumph in one of the most challenging but also most interesting event of the diving Olympic programme. Enthusiastically cheering the British pair at each of their six dives, the public was not enough to even secure a medal for the British duet, who finished fourth. The victory went to China's Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang (first Olympic participation), who totalled 486.78, ahead of Mexico's German Sanchez and Ivan Garcia (silver, with 468.90 points) and USA Nicholas McCrory/David Boudia (bronze, with 463.47).

Until the end of round 2 (out of 6), with dives limited to a 2.0 DD no team had made any major mistake. On the subsequent attempt, Daley and Waterfield, who were already in the lead, performed a flawless back 3 ½ somersault (tuck) and consolidated their advance over the Chinese pair. The turning point of the competition happened in the fourth round, when Daley lacked some rotation and spoiled a reverse 3 ½ somersault (tuck) and received a poor 71.28 from the judges. The British duet paid a very high price for this error and went immediately back to fourth position. Until the end, the fate of Daley and Waterfield did not change, provoking some frustration on the thousands of fans that were at the Aquatics Centre to support them.

"We were doing really well, the crowd out there were just fantastic, but like Pete said, if you miss a dive in this kind of field, you're out. We did pretty well to try and maintain a fourth place and being so close to a medal is tough. It's one of those things that you've always dreamed of, winning an Olympic medal," confessed Daley, 10m platform individual world champion in 2009. "It was just not our day today but hopefully we will come back stronger in the individual (10m platform)," he added.

In the medal "area", Cao (born in 1995) and Zhang (18 years old) just remained very concentrated all the way through and never committed major mistakes. It is the third consecutive title for China in this event after Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. When launched in Sydney, the men's 10m platform synchro had been won by Russia. "We have been diving four years together, and today our good relation has paid off!" considered Cao. Asked if they felt the pressure of competing against Daley and Waterfield in London, the Chinese champion replied: "When we compete, we normally don't pay much attention to the other competitors."

Benefiting from the hardest programme of this final (14.9 in the four dives without DD, compared with the 13.9 of Great Britain, or the 13.8 from USA), and performing consistently throughout all the final, Sanchez and Garcia offered their country the first Olympic medal ever in male synchronised diving and the first podium presence (all sports included) for Mexico at these Games. 

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credit: Giorgio Scala

"Diving has evolved a lot in the last years, so we've adapted our programme in consequence. We have chosen a very difficult combination, but this is the future of Diving. We will be proud to say that Mexico was one of the first countries trying, and succeeding so hard combinations in a single final," told Ivan Garcia after his effort. "This was the medal I was aspiring to. The day I retire, I will proudly say that I won an Olympic medal," he added. Advised by Jesus Mena and Fernando Platas, former Olympic medallists in Diving for Mexico, Garcia explained that their help was essential to this success: "Yesterday night, we sat all together and they told us about their stories and how they faced the pressure of the Games. That helped us a lot in today's final," concluded Garcia, who was congratulated together with Sanchez on the phone by the President of Mexico. "It was the first medal for Mexico at these Games, so everyone is pretty excited back home."

In third, McCrory and Boudia were also very solid during the final and offered USA the second medal in the diving events, after the silver in the women's 3m springboard synchro. The North Americans are definitively coming back to the top of the world hierarchy – before London, their last diving award had been in 2000 and they had no medals in synchronised events either.  For all the six medal winners, this has been their first success at this level. 

"It's true that the girls got the ball rolling yesterday, with their silver. We were excited to be part of that success and we certainly gained additional motivation for today's final. We remained very concentrated during the event and at the end we didn't even know exactly what was our position," explained David Boudia. "Presently, in Diving, it's more of a China versus the rest of the world, so I congratulate the Mexicans for their success," he also considered.

Germany and Russia, with two podium presences each since 2000 in this event, couldn't reach a medal spot in London: Ilya Zakharov and Victor Minibaev (RUS) finished sixth, while Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein were perhaps the biggest (negative) surprise of the final, concluding in seventh – they had been silver medallists in Beijing 2008, also second at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai (CHN), and 2012 European champions. With a "light" programme (13.7 in the four dives without DD) and with several mistakes during the final (namely a missed entry in their fourth attempt) they soon understood that their medal chances in London were limited.