Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Russia

A further 3 titles were contested on Competition day 2 of the FINA Diving World Series #4 in Kazan.

China habitually excelled, picking up 3 medals, 2 golds and 1 silver on offer. The Asian divers continued the form that saw them comfortably taking the semi-final hurdles, both in the women’s 10m platform and in the men’s 3m springboard. In their absence, three other nations claimed podium’s top in the mixed 10m platform, where great expectations of the home crowd were surprisingly proved by the Russian side.

Women’s 10m platform: the champion reigns on

Ren Qian opened another perfect day for her nation, winning gold.

First heading into the final, she took a slow start. Astonishing, but her Inward 3 1/2 Somersaults with tuck on the second attempt placed her as bad as fifth! However, the reigning Olympic and world champion was never seen in despair, worked on hard to improve, and soon returned back on top. Earning her day-high-86.40 points, on both - Armstand back 2 Somersaults 1 1/5 Twists and Back 2 1/2 Somersaults 1 1/5 Twists - to close her program, she celebrated her win, at 389.10 points, a comfortable 26.75 to the next challenger.

North Korean Kim Mie Rae looked very well at start. She used to be occasionally leading as round#2 ended up for her with 169.00 points. The trouble came next as she botched a Back 3 1/2 Somersaults with tuck getting 44.55 points. As a result, she ranked lowly sixth, 2 rounds to go to the competition finish. Was it for the diving experience or for a hand of luck, or she simply followed her Chinese colleague's good example, Kim Mie Rae managed to revive and and restored her positions, overtaking her teammate Kuk Hyang in the last round.

Melissa WU of Australia in action

Malaysian Pandelela Pamg and Iulia Timoshinina of Russia were competing each other chasing bronze, when there came a surprise from Wu of Australia. She saved her best for the last, and scoring 76.80 on her final 5253B, sneaked ahead of them both to collect the medal.

“Once again, like in Montreal, I can say, my performance was average, meaning I can improve a lot, I just need to work harder. This is my second gold in the circuit, to complete the set with 2 silver I got in Beijing and Fiji, which is not bad. I shall work on to show even better form a little later this year”.

Kim Mi Rae said, that she was not happy with her dives at all, but the color of the medal softens her heart a little.

“I have trained hard, but I am still experiencing problems. I congratulate my Chinese opponent on her gold, which is well deserved”, - she added.

“This is a good way to finish performance in 2018 FINA Diving World Series, - confessed Melissa Wu of Australia. – I enjoyed diving in Kazan, but I wish I could have done the first three dives of my list much better. Today it was like a rocky road, with ups and downs, but bronze is not bad at all, meaning you are the third best in the competition”.

Medal ceremony in the women's 10m platform

Men’s 3m springboard: new order on the podium

A remarkably high level of competition was registered in the men’s 3m springboard. The ever three on the podium were expected to distribute the medals in Kazan, but were unexpectedly intruded by the fourth, tired of being fourth in the circuit.

The pace was set by Ilia Zakharov, 2012 Olympic champion of Russia. He was leading after the opening two rounds, but happened to botch a Reverse 3 1/2 Somersaults tucked on his third attempt, just to see the group of chasers, consisted of the reigning Olympic champion Cao Yuan, two-time world champion Xie Siyi and another Russian Evgenii Kuznetsov, moving ahead of him. Cao Yuan knew what to do to win, and dived impressively, and his scores never dipped below 87 points mark, but as it turned out it was too far from sealing the gold medal.

Ilia Zakharov of Russia in action

The matter was not decided till the last round, where all 4 medal contenders chose to perform a Forward 4 1/2 Somersaults tucked. Xie Siyi did the complicated dive better, scoring enormous 102.60 points and landed the crown, 536.60 points overall. His teammate Cao was not bad at all, earning 93.10 points for the overall 531.00, locking silver.

Evgenii Kuznetsov posted his day-high, 96.90, to celebrate bronze. He overtook his teammate amd synchro partner Ilia Zakharov by a mere 3.20 points, moving him down to the fourth.

“This is my second gold here in Kazan, and second in the circuit, - said the reigning world champion Xie Siy. – I am happy I closed the Diving World Series on a high. I congratulate my Russian opponents, too. They are strong divers, and show good form”.

“They are indeed, - agreed the reigning Olympic champion Cao Yuan. – I particularly like the way Ilia Zakharov dives. As for my own performance, not everything was perfect today, but based on the information I received here, I will be able to get better prepared to the coming major competitions of the season. All colors of medals are always good, - the diver added with a smile, however, when I compete, I always aim to hit gold”.

“I have registered my personal best in the 2018 World Diving Series of 494.25 points, - commented on his podium presence Evgeny Kuznetsov of Russia. - There were some mistakes, of course, but I am pretty pleased with the way it went. After the semi-finals I made some corrections in my diving list, substituting 107B by 5253B on my second attempt, and I think it has proved out to be the right decision”.

Winners in the men

Mixed 10m synchro platform: a surprise from Russia

The third medal ceremony of the day unveiled a big surprise, pleasant for the Russian spectators. The winners order in the mixed 10m synchro platform looked very different to the one registered in Montreal one week ago.

North Korean Kim Mi Hwa/Hyon II Myong were dominating all the way through to the ultimate round. The were closely chased by Russian Ilia Timoshinina/Nikita Shleikher, and the difference between constantly shifted, ranging from 0.57 to 4.80 points. It happened so, that the gold question was left open to the ultimate attemt. Hosts, winged by the home crowd, dived out of their minds to buy 83.52 on their Back 2 ½ Somersaults 1 1/5 Twists pike. The same dive by Kim Mi Hwa/Hyon II Myong of North Korea received 81.60 points. Consequently, Timoshinina/Shleikher turned victorious, for the first time in the competition, as Kim Mi Hwa/Hyon II Myong got silver, third in their 2018 DWS season.

Russian mixed duo in action

Bronze was almost a given for Canadian Meaghan Benfeito teaming Vincent Riendeau, 306.72, whereas Tina Punzel/Florian Fandler of Germany ended up fourth with 286.92 points.

“I can’t describe what I feel now, but I am very very happy, - exclaimed emotional Iulia Timoshinina, pressing her gold medal tenderly. – On the other hand I am a little bit tired, because I had to dive today both in the morning and in the sessions and tried to be competitive in the individual 10m platform event, too. Coming back to our mixed synchro win, I can say, we very much hoped, we would be able to win at home. This was very desirable for us in terms of the overall ranking competition in the 2018 Diving World Series, and now, it seems as if this gold placed us on a par with our North Korean opponents.”

“We could well have expected such a good result from the Russian side, - said Meaghan Benfeito of Canada. – They are strong as a diving nation, and in mixed synchro events, in particular”.

“We are very happy with the bronze, too, - added Vincent Riendeau, teaming Meaghan Benfeito one week ago, after her gold triumph in the Leg#3 of the 2018 FINA Diving World Series. - I think we did well, considering the fact, that we did not train too much together”.

The remaining 3 finals, including 3m mixed synchro, women’s 3m springboard and men’s 10m platform, will be held on Sunday, May, 6, to bring the Diving World Series 2018 season to a close.

Winners in the mixed 10m synchro platform

Competition results. FINA World Diving Series 2018. Leg 4.

May, 5 Day 2
10m platform women

1. Ren Qian (CHN) 389.10
2. KIM Mi Rae (PRK) 362.35
3. WU Melissa (AUS) 351.80
4. TIMOSHININA Iilia (RUS) 348.45
5. KIM Kuk Hyang (PRK) 346.80
6. PAMG Pandelela (MAS) 318.65

3m springboard men

1. XIE Siyi (CHN) 536.60
2. CAO Yuan (CHN) 531.00
3. KUZNETSOV Evgenii (RUS) 494.25
4. ZAKHAROV Ilia (RUS) 491.05
5. Imbeau-Dulac Francois (CAN) 440.90
6. GOODFELLOW Daniel (GBR) 377.35

Mixed 10m synchro platform

1. TIMOSHININA Iuliia/MINIBAEV Viktor (RUS) 331.35
2. KIM Mi Hwa/HYON II Myong (PRK) 330.00
3. BENFEITO Meaghan/RIENDEAU Vincent (CAN) 306.72
4. PUNZEL Tina/FANDLER Florian (GER) 286.92