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Diving, Day 4: Zi He denies Cagnotto in close 1m duel
Zi He, an Olympic gold medallist last year, reclaimed the women's world 1m springboard title in a desperately close duel with European champion Tania Cagnotto, overtaking the Italian on the last dive of the final to win by just one-tenth of a point, the smallest margin in any diving event in the history of the World Championships. Cagnotto, who led through three of the five rounds of dives, could not have come closer in her bid to scoop Italy's first World Championship diving gold in 38 years since Klaus Dibiasi won the men's 10m title at the first two editions in 1973 and 1975.
Cagnotto, silver medallist in the 3m synchro springboard at these championships, was poised tantalisingly close to gold, having led at the end of the penultimate round by five points, but saw it snatched away by He, who unfurled the highest score of the final with a reverse 1-1/2 somersaults and 1-1/2 twists which earned her 66.30 points.That sealed China's fourth title out of five thus far contested in Barcelona, He, who previously won the world 1m crown in 2007, prevailing this time with 307.10 points, with Cagnotto having to settle for silver on 307.00 and He's Chinese team-mate Han Wang, who collected the bronze in 2009 and silver in 2011, taking bronze on 297.75.
He partnered Minxia Wu to gold in the 3m synchro at the 2012 London Olympics, where she also took silver in the individal event, repeating the tally she achieved at the 2011 Worlds in Shanghai. He, the top qualifier from the preliminary round, seized the lead in the first round of the final ahead of Cagnotto and Wang but the 28-year-old Italian, the oldest finalist, overtook her in the second, as Wang dropped to seventh. Cagnotto stayed in front in the third round, with He inching closer and Wang back in the top three but nearly 12 points behind the leader. Cagnotto slightly increased her advantage but there was no change in the order in the fourth round, by which time the destination of the medals looked almost sure to be settled between the top trio, Canada's then fourth-placed Pamela Ware having fallen off the pace.
It was the fifth Chinese victory in the event at the World Championships since the illustrious Min Gao won the first edition in 1991. Cagnotto went into the final having been four times a bronze medallist - three times in the 3m individual event and once, at the last Worlds in 2011, on the 1m board- as well as silver medallist in the 3m synchro in 2009 and here in 2013. But gold, so near, was to elude her once more.
Gold medal winner: Zi He (CHN)
"I was a bit surprised with the victory, but I am obviously very happy. Wang and I performed very consistently and the outcome was highly positive. Before the last dive, I was really nervous because the notes were very close. I managed to remain concentrated and I got the gold."
On this being the tightest difference in the history of World Championships between the gold and silver medallist: "I couldn’t imagine! Knowing that, I even give more value to my gold medal!"
Silver medal winner: Tania Cagnotto (ITA)
"I am really satisfied with this silver, taking into account my last year. After the London Olympics, I took a break, and I came here not so well prepared as in previous major competitions. I have already two silver medals, so I am thrilled! Moreover, it was the first time I got so close from the Chinese- this is a good sign, I am getting closer to them…"
"I got nervous going to the last dive, as I had a real opportunity of getting my first world title. I finally remained calm, but the dive was not perfect."
On the tight finish: "It’s a kind of experience for me… In London, I lost the bronze medal by 0.20, here I lose the gold by 0.10… At the Games, I was really disappointed, here I am happy. Diving results shouldn’t be so close, because sometimes it hurts…"
"I know that perhaps I won’t have many future opportunities to get the gold, and it’s a bit pity that I lost this chance, but considering my preparation in these last months, it’s even better than what I expected."
Bronze medal winner: Han Wang (CHN)
"I worked very much for this result and the effort paid off. The conditions were a bit difficult – wind and heat – but the divers are able to overcome all challenges."