Pedro Adrega, FINA Communications Department

After its overwhelming supremacy in the first leg of the 2016 FINA/NVC Diving World Series in Beijing (CHN), the Chinese team started in the best possible way the second meet of the circuit, organised on March 17-19 in Dubai (UAE). In an inaugural day only with synchro events, China could easily be labelled as the “master of synchronisation”, with four “comfortable” gold medals in the 3m springboard and 10m platform events, for men and women.

The best example of this domination came in the last final of the day, the men’s 3m synchro. Yuan Cao and Kai Qin, 2015 world champions, silver medallists at the 2016 World Cup, and winners last week at home, gave no chances to their main contenders, easily winning in 464.52. They even managed to “digest” a not-so successful sixth and last round, where the 109C combination (forward, 4 ½ somersaults was not so perfect) and conclude almost 30 points ahead of Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gorshkovozov/Illya Kvasha (435.39). The bronze went to British pair Jack Laugher/Christopher Mears (424.92), also third at last summer Kazan’s Worlds.  

“We are so happy because we have practiced hard and had hoped that here in Dubai our results would be much better than in the first series in Beijing, where we just finished. Sometimes you make mistakes because we are all human but this is sports, and (diving) is a great sport, so we hope to continue to build in the next leg. I think we were just relaxed and not looking at how the competition was doing. We tried to do all our dives the best that we could," explained Gorshkovozov. 

To open the afternoon session, Zi He and Han Wang also never lost sight of the first place in the women’s 3m synchro event. Totalling 328.80, the Chinese pair revalidated its win from the “Water Cube” some days earlier, while Italy’s Tania Cagnotto/Francesca Dallape upgraded their medal from Beijing, moving from third to second, in 316.95. They switched position with the Ukrainian pair Viktoriya Kesar/Anastasiia Nedobiga, silver last week, but bronze this time in superb Hamdan Sports Complex (with 309.00).

“We are really happy with our performance considering the last two days I was lying in bed with fever and having recovered a little, it turned out to be our best competition this year. We did a little better on each dive compared to last week, which helped us climb to silver,” Cagnotto said.

The only major difficulty for the winners was their fifth and last combination, a back 2 ½ somersaults in the pike position, with a less clear entry: even if the pair got modest marks between 7.0/7.5, the advance of He and Wang was largely sufficient to guarantee the triumph. For He, this victory has a special meaning: she claims her 47th gold medal at the World Series, ousting Chen Ruolin (CHN, 46) for the record in any gender. Moreover, this was the 30th consecutive win of China in this event at the World Series, also a milestone in the history of this competition.

The women's 3m synchro podium - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Morning finals

In earlier action during this first day in Dubai, China won both synchro events in the 10m platform. The superiority was clearer in the men’s field, where Aisen Chen/Yue Lin (466.50) led from the first dive and finished almost 38 points ahead of the silver medallists Tom Daley/Daniel Goodfellow from Great Britain (second in 428.91). The bronze went to US pair David Boudia/Steele Johnson in 419.88.

Several duets performed the challenging 109C, but the Chinese duet was the most perfect executing it, getting the highest score of the final in 97.68. Being capable of such performance in the fifth and penultimate round, this was one of the keys for the success of the 2015 world champions in this event.

Despite being already the winners in the first leg of the series in the Chinese capital, Yue Lin was happier with the performance in Dubai: “What helped us secure another win was the communication and training between us which led to an improvement in the synchronisation compared to Beijing,” he said.

Silver medallists in the “Water Cube”, Ukrainians Maksym Dolgov/Oleksandr finished this time in fifth. The second best in the Hamdan Sports Complex were Daley and Goodfellow, third in Beijing and also bronze medallists at the 2016 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro (BRA).

“It feels good considering we haven’t had the chance to train this week as I’ve been sick owing to illness. I’ve had a bad back, a bad neck and Dan’s had a bad hamstring. The odds have been against us so we’ve somehow managed to pull it off on the day. We have one more individual event left here in Dubai, so the focus is on getting fit and ready for that,” considered Daley, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist in the individual 10m platform.

 

In a good shape leading to the 2016 Games in Brazil, David Boudia paired with Steele Johnson for the bronze in Dubai. The US star had been 10m Olympic champion in London (GBR) and was third in the synchro event. This was Boudia’s 10th synchro platform medal, which makes him the first US athlete with double-digit medals in a single World Series event.

Tonia Couch/Lois Toulson (GBR) - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Among women, Liu Huixia continues her winning saga. After successfully pairing with Ruolin Chen in Kazan 2015 and in the World Cup in Rio, she is also dominating operations in the World Series. Coming from a victory in Beijing, with Si Yajie, the duet earned one more gold in Dubai, finishing first in 333.24. The silver went to Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion (326.58), while Great Britain got the bronze thanks to Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson (311.76).

Outside of the podium in the first leg of the series, in Beijing, the Canadians were perhaps the happier duet after the final.

“I think it went really well, we had our first competition together last week in Beijing and so we were satisfied that this week went a lot better. We improved a lot in one week so we are really happy with the outcome today,” confessed Filion.

If the first two meets of the World Series represent the start of the season, this pair has already accumulated other recent successes, namely the bronze at the 2012 Games in London and the silver medals at last year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS). For the records, Benfeito/Filion’s silver gave Canada their 100th medal at the World Series (all events and genders). Canada is the second nation to reach this mark, after China (409).

The second day of the FINA/NVC Diving World Series in Dubai (UAE) will include three finals: women’s 10m platform, men’s 3m springboard and mixed 10m platform mixed.