Diving, Day 4: Qin and He triumph in 3m synchro final

BCN2013 - Diving

China (CHN)Double Olympic champion Kai Qin clinched an unprecedented fourth successive men's 3m synchro springboard gold, triumphing with new partner Chong He, himself a former winner of the event, and maintaining China's winning ways at the FINA World Championships.The victory was China's fifth in six diving finals so far contested in the Montjuic Municipal Pool and the second of the day, following Zi He's narrow win over Italy's Tania Cagnotto in the women's 1m springboard final. Qin and He led throughout to amass 448.86 points and win by 20.85 points but it was not an entirely straightforward victory on a day when none of the pairs was immune from error.

Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilia Zakharov, silver medallists behind Qin and Yutong Luo at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, had to settle for silver again (428.01), while Mexicans Jahir Ocampo and Rommel Pacheco proved steadier than some of their more fancied rivals to take bronze (422,79). Zakharov, who beat Qin and He for the 3m individual gold at the 2012 Olympics, and Kuznetsov were seeking to emulate fellow countrymen Alexander Dobroskok and Dmitry Sautin, the only non-Chinese duo to win the event when they prevailed in 2003. But they could not prevent the Chinese from making it seven wins in eight editions of the World Championships.

Germans Patrick Hausding - winner, with Sascha Klein, of the 10m synchro crown, the only title not won by China in the first four days - and Stephan Feck fell away in the second half and finished fourth. Troy Dumais, world silver medallist in 2009 and Olympic bronze medallist in 2012 with Kristian Ipsen, finished fifth for the USA with new synchro partner Michael Hixon after a disappointing fifth round put them out of the reckoning.

Qin and He took charge in the opening round and extended their lead in the second, when they led Kuznetsov and Zakharov by 5.40 points, with Germany, the USA and Ukraine bunched closely a little way behind. Ocampo and Pacheco vaulted into second place in the third round as the Russians dropped to fifth, while Qin and Kai moved further clear at the top, having notched the highest scores in each round by the halfway point of the six-dive final. The fourth round brought grief in turn for the German, Russian and Chinese pairs but Qin and He clung to a reduced lead ahead of the USA and Mexico. The Russians roared back in the fifth with the highest score of the final (92.40 for a powerful reverse 3.5 somersaults) to move back to second but Qin and He proved equal to the challenge, nailing their final forward 4.5 somersaults for a 92.34 score and gold.

Qin, twice Olympic champion in the 3m synchro, had also won this event at the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Worlds, while He claimed gold in 2005. Qin was also individual 3m world champion in 2007, while He was victorious in 2009 and 2011. Wang Feng, twice victor with Qin and once with He, had shared with Qin the distinction of winning the 3m synchro event three times but Qin has now trumped that with his quartet of golds.


Gold Medal: Kai Qin/Chong He (CHN)

Qin: “I am not very satisfied with our performance, but this gold medal had a great merit: we have learnt to dive together, and this can be useful for the future”.

“On the fourth dive [307C, reverse 3 ½ somersault, DD 3.5] I made a huge mistake. I felt even during training that I was not very confident in this combination, and the result was not good. Fortunately, we were consistent enough in the other dives, especially in the 5154B [forward 2 ½ somersault 2 twists], which was also a weak point at training”.

“I don’t think on the number of medals won at World Championships. I just want to remain in the team until they feel that I am useful”.

He: “In 2003, when watching the images of the championships here in Barcelona, I was wondering if I could ever compete here. Today I did it and won the gold”.

On raising the DD of their dives towards the Olympics 2016 in Rio: “We already perform very difficult combinations. We don’t want to change too much before the Olympics; otherwise, it will be very complicated to maintain the same quality and consistency”.

Silver Medal: Evgeny Kuznetsov/Illia Zakharov (RUS)

Zakharov: “Watching the Chinese during practice, we were quite confident in getting the gold here in Barcelona. But then, just before the final, I had no emotion, I had a kind of apathy. I was not capable of ‘feeling’ the final. And then happened the mistake, on the fourth dive [207C, back 3 ½ somersault]. But, in the end, a silver medal is also a medal…”

Kuznetsov: “Globally, I am quite satisfied with my dives. I was a bit sad with our mistake, but we have all our chances in the individual events”.

Tatiana Korobko (Zakharov’s coach): “He was really thinking in getting the gold, but he competed in many competitions during the last months, so he was perhaps mentally tired”.

Bronze Medal: Jahir Ocampo/Rommel Pacheco (MEX)

Pacheco: “I already competed here in 2003, and it’s always a great satisfaction to dive in this pool. In 2013, I switched from the 10m platform to the 3m, and since April I am pairing with Jahir. We participated in two Nationals, two Grand Prix, and now here in Barcelona. Given the short time we train together, I believe this is a great outcome”.

Ocampo: “The Mexican programmes always include very high DDs. Today was no exception, but we take each dive at the time. We were not very attentive to the scoreboard or ranking, but before the last dive we understood that we had a chance for a medal”.