Shanghai 2011 - Diving


China takes it all at home!

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

credit: Giorgio ScalaChinese great Qiu Bo got the last gold on offer in Shanghai in the 10m platform. This medal completes the host federation’s complete sweep in all diving events for an overall, record-breaking tally of 10 gold.

Diving can be cruel and unpredictable. In the 3m springboard, five-time World Champion Qin Kai suffered so much in his last dive, a 4 ½ Forward Tuck (109C), that he finished fourth, despite a brilliant performance in the other five rounds.

In the 10m platform preliminaries, it was two-time World Champion Gleb Galperin from Russia who experienced some difficulty with the same dive. Galperin was worrying mostly about his Armstand Reverse (3.0 DD), a new diving combination that was included to his free programme at the beginning of the year. He got quite high marks for execution and assumed that the most important part of the work was done.

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China: one step to go for the absolute record

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

Wu Minxia got the ninth gold medal for China and first for herself. It may sound strange but the four-time World Champion in synchronised diving never had a chance to won her individual medal. Every time since 2001 it was Guo Jingjing who captured gold so all that Wu Minxia gained individually for this period of time was one bronze and two silver medals.

Sometimes, it seems that diving as a sport has its own justice. In 1976, in Montreal, many people thought that Greg Louganis should be awarded with gold medal at 10m platform – but the victory was given to great Italian Claus Dibiasi. The 1976 Games were his last international competition and judges were perhaps more indulgent to the veteran than to the 16-year-old teenager.

The same kind of drama happened in Seoul. Louganis was about to finish his great career, after two Olympic gold in Los Angeles, one more in Seoul at 3m and was fighting for the fourth on the platform. A lot of people were sure that the gold medal should be given to Xiong Ni. But it went to Louganis. And this looked as a compensation for Montreal.

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He Chong (CHN) wins, but Russia shines

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

The Russian divers Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov surprised the audience with their silver and bronze medals. Five-time world champion and Beijing gold medallist Qin Kai finished fourth. The gold went to the Olympic champion and world champion of 2009 in this event, He Chong.

Qin Kai had the best result in the preliminary event – 4.35 ahead of He Chong. In the semi-final, the Chinese divers changed the positions and their results were almost equal with the difference of 0.25. Zakharov had the third score both times. He was the most evident rival to the Chinese among all competitors because of the difficulty of his dives. The Degree of Difficulty of He Chong’s free programme totalled 20.3, while Qin Kai had 20.4. Zakharov had an impressive 21.5.

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Gold and silver for China; 2009 champion Espinosa (MEX) in third

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

Chen Ruolin (CHN) - Credit: Giorgio ScalaChen Ruolin came to Shanghai as a strong favourite. The two-time Olympic Games winner also had gold medals in Rome 2009 and Melbourne 2007 in synchronised diving. Moreover, she was first in individual platform at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 World Cup. Finally, she accumulated 11 victories at Grand Prix events. An enormous roll of honour for such a tiny athlete – just 1.36m for a mere 30kg weight!

The advantage of her compatriot Hu Yadan was clear during the preliminary competition. The 15-year-old newcomer got the best result with a 11-point advantage over Chen Ruolin. Then, Hu also won the semi-final and the advantage increased to 17.70. The semi-final score of the young Chinese was remarkable: Hu Yadan got six “tens” for her last dive (96.00 in total) and 403.65, in general.

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Is 2011 the year of China’s Grand Slam?

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

credit: Giorgio ScalaThe 1m women’s competition has never been so successful for China as the other diving events. Considering the whole history of this event (since FINA World Championships in 1991) the Chinese divers won the gold title three times. In five other editions, the victory was captured by other hands. Or “by other legs”.

This expression really reflects the main idea of 1m springboard: if the diver wants to be successful, he must have (besides the perfect technique) very strong legs. Otherwise the dives never look impressive. Women's diving at 1m is never so difficult as men's, but diving ladies have their own advantage.

When 1m competition got its first international recognition it became clear that not every male diver was able to compete at this height. Some of the world leaders were so big, strong and pressed the springboard with so much power, that the flexible metal board touched the water surface. If this happens, the springboard looses its ability to push the diver to the air as high as it could be done with the higher springboard.

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