Diving day 7 - Chen (CHN) revalidates 10m title; Australia shines with new star
The seventh final of the diving programme at these Games, the women's 10m platform, was not very thrilling in terms of the gold medal outcome but was amazingly interesting if we consider the minor medals. 2008 Olympic and 2011 world champion Ruolin Chen (CHN) calmly displayed her supremacy during the decisive stage of the competition, capturing gold with a total 422.30. This Chinese success came after a hiccup in the men's 3m springboard, where Russia's Ilya Zakharov earned the only non-Chinese gold so far in the diving competition (the last event on the programme being the men's 10m platform – final to be held on August 11). Chen reconfirmed the Chinese pride in this discipline, delivering a flawless programme, which allowed her to dominate the final from the very first dive. It is the fourth Olympic gold for Chen, after her 2008 and 2012 successes (in the individual and synchro 10m platform).
"I feel honoured to win one more gold medal for the Chinese team. I just hope China can get more gold! The more, the better. I still don't know how I'll celebrate this!" said a delighted Chen. Asked about what she has seen during these Games, she confessed: "While competing, I don't pay any attention to what others are doing, but before the diving events I watched the performances of Sun Yang in the pool and I loved it!"
For silver, the world of diving discovered a new star, Australia's Brittany Broben, 16 years old, scoring a total 366.50. Broben had already given good indications in both the preliminaries (fourth) and the semi-finals (third) of this event and despite a less successful fourth dive (back 3 ½ somersault, tuck, DD 3.3), she was quite regular in the four remaining attempts. Second at the Australian Olympic Trials – behind the second Australian in the final, Melissa Wu (fourth here in London) -, Broben started diving at the age of 11, inspired and "pushed" by the previous Australian individual female medallist at the Games, Chantelle Newbery (winner in the 10m platform in Athens 2004). Her first appearance at the highest level was at the 2011 FINA World Championships, where she took a discreet 11th in the 1m springboard (a non-Olympic event).
"She [Chen] deserves the gold. I just want to congratulate her, she is a great diver," stated Broben. While explaining her training routine – "I must get up every day at 4:30 in the morning and then spend more than 18 hours away from home, combining school and practice" -, the 16-year-old (she will be 17 in November) revealed: "But all this was worth this medal. I gave my best today, but I knew that Chen would be hard to beat. Besides her, the differences between all the others were not so big, so I just kept focused." Recalling her debut in diving, she proudly explained: "I started about five years ago, and Chantelle has been with me from the beginning, always believing in my capacities. She must be at home jumping in excitement for me!"
The bronze (359.20) went to Pandelela Rinong Pamg from Malaysia, the first-ever medal in Aquatics for this Asian country at the Games! Until now, Malaysian athletes had been successful only in badminton at Olympic level (five medals), so Pamg's success opens a bright new chapter in this nation's sports history books. Born in 1993, the Malaysian star was already known at world level, obtaining a bronze medal at the 2009 FINA World Championships in the 10m platform synchro event in Rome – the first award then for her country at FINA's major events (all disciplines included). In the two years leading up to these Games, Pamg was not so brilliant, taking 5th at the 2011 Worlds in the 10m platform.
"I definitively feel very proud. Winning a medal in a World Championships was already quite an achievement, but this Olympic bronze is just unbelievable! In Malaysia, the qualification for the final was already a great goal, so this medal was a surprise even for me," declared Pamg. On the future and on the importance of this award for the development of diving (and sport in general) in her country: "Diving is not a very popular discipline back home; people pay more attention to other sports, such as badminton or cycling. I hope that this medal can inspire the youth in my country for this spectacular discipline," she concluded.
Broben, like Pamg, did not produce the most difficult programme of the final (total DD of 15.6 and 15.5, respectively) but performed more consistently than other confirmed stars, such as Paola Espinosa (MEX, 2009 world champion in this event), whose programme had an accumulated DD of 16.0. She badly missed her reverse 3 ½ somersault, tuck (DD 3.3), concluding in sixth – better than her 13th position in the heats and 11th in the semis. Canada's Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito (second in the semis) also had a total 16.0 DD but many mistakes from both divers dictated the 10th place for Filion and the 11th for Benfeito. The biggest deception of the final was perhaps the second Chinese qualified – Yadan Hu, silver medallist at home at last year's Worlds and the youngest of the final -, who missed her first two dives and finished in ninth.
In Olympic history, the women's 10m platform has been dominated by China since the first success in 1984, with the exception of the 2000 Sydney Games, where Laura Wilkinson (USA) picked up gold and Newbery's above-mentioned title in 2004.
credit: Giorgio Scala
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