Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent in Russia

China kicks off the competition with 4 gold medals on offer.

Favorites keep on rocking

The FINA/NVC Diving World Series Leg 3 got successfully launched in Kazan, Russia, as the first day registered convincing dominance of China.

Qian Ren teamed Yajie Si to win women's 10m synchro platform in Kazan

The first set of medals was played in the women's 10m synchro platform, and the favorites once again left no doubts as to their claims for gold.

2016 Olympic women’s 10m platform champion Ren Qian, which together with Yani Chang had finished atop of the two previous legs of the 2017 FINA/NVC World Diving Series earlier this March, took the floor in Kazan indroducing her new synchro partner. She was also an Olympian, Yajie Si, who won silver in the 10m women’s platform in Rio. They got perfectly well together and showed a pretty strong list.

Leading from start to finish, the Chinese posted a high scoring Inward 3.5 somersaults with tuck on their 4th attempt to earn 75.84 points. Their final attempt saw a convincing Back 2.5 somersaults 1.5 twists pike, which brought to the eventual winners 77.76 for the overall tally of 328.20.

2016 Olympic bronze holder Canadian Meaghan Benfeito teaming young and rising Caeli McKay finished second. Taking a slow start with 45.60 points for their 201B dive, the duo soon recovered and rushed to chase Malaysian Pandelela Pamg with her new partner Nur Dhabitah Sabri. In their 4th attempt, executing Inward 3.5 somersaults with tuck, they scored 64.32 to book silver. Canadians finished at 291.06 overall and celebrated their first podium presence at the 2017 FINA/NVC Diving World Series.

Another surprise came from Iuliia Timoshinina/Valeriia Belova of Russia. They managed to overtake Malaysian duo by some 6 points. Executing a high scoring Back 2.5 somersaults 1.5 twists pike, the hosts collected 75.84 to finish with a total of 284.76.

Awarding ceremony in the women's 10m synchro platform event

“We are really happy to get this medal, - shared her feelings Iuliia Timoshonina of Russia after the awarding ceremony. – This is the first ever piece we have got so far in 10m synchro together. We shall we never cease working and improving on ourselves, and, of course, we will be striving to proceed in this winning path, and may be claim one more title this year”.

“Finishing second is not that bad, - said Caeli McKay of Canada. – We could have done better, but I am happy with the end result. Our opponents are very strong, but all of them were not that perfect today. It seems as if we have all been in want of some energy. It turned out not to be a very tense event, but I think everyone did what they could”.

“It always gives pleasure to finish atop, - commented on their victory Qian Ren and Yajie Si of China. – At the same time, we realise, that we were not so flawless, especially in the fourth round. What we have to do now is to draw conclusions, and hopefully we will be able to improve on ourselves by the next leg of the circuit in Canada”.

There is room for surprise, if not speaking of gold

One more Olympic China-born champion finished atop of the 10m synchro platform event to repeat the success stories of the two home-held events of the circuit. Aisen Chen pairing Hao Yang showed consistence in the men's 10m synchro platform, and won convincingly at 462.57 points. The victorious duo finished over 54 points clear of their closest challengers from Germany. Sascha Klein/Patrick Hausding landed silver as they narrowly overtook Thomas Daley/Daniel Goodfellow of Great Britain. Scoring 75.60 with their 6th dive, Back 2.5 somersaults 2.5 twists pike, eventual silver holders amassed 408.54, which was just 2 points more than their British rivals.

Viktor Minibaev/Aleksandr Bondar of Russia could also have taken their share at the podium. They have been second at the halfway point, then a low scoring Reverse 3.5 somersaults tuck came on their 5th attempt to bring them just 47.94. Its impact on their eventual tally was quite considerable and was later reflected in the 23 points gap to bronze.

Aisen Chen and Hao Yang of China won the men's 10m synchro platform event in Kazan

“We are really happy that we got a medal in Kazan, - confessed 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist Thomas Daley. His teammate suffered an arm-injury in Beijing and seemed not to cure the ill up to the present moment. – We did not dive our best, but considering the preparations we had for the event, that’s not so bad at all: there were barely 3 weeks together we spent training as a 10m synchro, definitely not enough to get ready for such a top level diving meet”.

“It’s good to win silver even though we are experiencing some problems with a number of dives, - said Sasha Klein of Germany. – In our second attempt, I did not see the water, and there followed a big splash. But the other divers had some problems too, so we were pretty competitive. We will try to improve by the next FINA/NVC Diving World Series stop in Canada”.

“We are not in our best form so far, - commented on the win Aisen Chen. - We will train hard from now on, and hopefully be in a better shape by the Canadian leg, which will be a dress rehearsal for the FINA World Championships, scheduled for Budapest later this year”.

Awarding ceremony at the men's 10m synchro platform event

Olympic experience counts

Two-time Olympic Champion Tingmao Shi proved her consistency and talent, starring in the women’s 3m synchro springboard with her new partner Yani Chang. They did not hesitate to reveal their winning plans early in the first round, earning a couple of 9s for a forward dive pike. Chinese were convincing and steady, and managed to avoid the wraps and misses their challengers had. Posting a Back 2.5 somersaults pike they earned the best sum of the day 77.40, which was a good contribution to their overall total of 321.90.

After the awarding ceremony Tingmao followed her impulse to present the freshly earned gold to spectators.

“It is a big honor for me and my partner Yani to see our compatriots shouting for us in Kazan, which is very very far from our motherland, this is why I gave them the medal. They have deserved that win as well as we did, - explained her good-will act the two-time Olympic champion.

Women's 3m synchro springboard event in action

Russian Kristina Ilinykh and Nadezhda Bazhina finished 12 points adrift on second, 309.00. Taking a poor start at the end of the chart, the hosts managed to return in the battle and were a success as they outscored 2016 Olympic bronze holder Maddison Keeney teaming a freshman Esther Qin, which landed bronze, 289.90.

"The silver we won means, that we are on the right way, - said Nadezhda Bazhina of Russia. – We were not bad at all, but I see there is a good room to work on. I like diving with Kristina as I believe we have a good chemistry and are on the same diving terms. We shall work hard from now on to achieve even better results in the future”.

“We are very happy with the result, - said Maddison Keeney. - We train hard 3 times a day, and our job is finally rewarded with a podium presence. The next year after Olympics is always like testing. This time in Kazan I am diving with Esther, the two previous FINA/NVC Diving World Series we did with Anabelle Fillion. We shall see what is the best combination for the FINA World Championships in Budapest”.

Xie and Cao in tune

In the men’s 3m synchro springboard event, everyone expected a good competition between Yuan Cao/Siyi Xie of China and British Olympic champions Jack Laughter/Chris Mears. The two previous legs of the circuit showed supremacy of the Chinese. The hopes did not meet the reality as the leaders proceeded on their path. Chinese were irreproachable, leading from start to finish, and sealed their complicated program with a Back 3.5 somersaults pike, 90.72, for the overall total of 458.82.

Unlike the Chinese, the rest of the field suffered problems. Canadian Philippe Gagne/Francois Imbeau-Dulac and Italian Giovanni Tocci/Francesco Porco broke one dive each and got 0. Olympic champions Chris Mears and Jack Laugher earned 59.16 for on their 4th attempt. of course, they soon recovered, posting a Forward 2.5 somersaults 3 twists to register the best mark of the day, 91.26. In the end, they totalled 420.24, 30 points behind the leader and over 50 ahead of their closest opponents from Russia.

Yuan Cao and Siyi Sie won the men's 3m synchro springboard event

Ilia Zakharov/Evgenii Kuznetsov were not stable, having wraps here and there, every second dive they performed. Meaning to stay competitive, they fought till the end, and were quite consistent executing a high scoring Reverse 3.5 somersaults with tuck, 87.15, which helped them to win bronze at 376.83.

“We do not like the way we competed today, - commented on their performance Iliya Zakharov. – Bronze is a good medal, but we dived not very well, to put it mildly. After the Olympics we are training hard to regain good shape, which is not easy. We have to work more on synchronization to show better results”.

“Overall, we are happy with the end result, but there were some mistakes we can improve in the future, - said Chris Mears. - I always loved diving in Kazan. The arena is very light and pretty”.

“It was important for us to beat British duo as we lost to them in 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, - confessed Yuan Cao. – We are not that happy with the way we dived today, and we will definitely train hard to be a success at the FINA World Championships in Budapest”.

Competition results. FINA Diving World Series 2017. Leg 3.
Day 1 March, 31
10m platform synchro women
1. Ren Qian/Si Yajie (CHN) 328.20
2. Benfeito Meaghan/Mckay Caeli (CAN) 291.06
3. Timoshinina Iuliia/Belova Valeriia (RUS) 284.76
4. Pamg Pandelela/Sabri Nur Dhabitah Binti (MAS) 283.02
5. Couch Tonia/Toulson Lois (GBR) 269.58

10m platform synchro men
1. Chen Aisen/Hao Yang (CHN) 462.57
2. Hausding Patrick/Klein Sascha (GER) 408.54
3. Daley Thomas/Goodfellow Daniel (GBR) 406.38
4. Minibaev Viktor/Bondar Aleksandr (RUS) 383.31
5. Del Valle Mario Alberto/Olvera Ibarra Osmar (MEX) 349.50

3m springboard synchro women
1. Shi Tingmao/Chang Yani (CHN) 321.90
2. Ilinykh Kristina/Bazhina Nadezhda (RUS) 309.00
3. Keeney Maddison/Qin Esther (AUS) 289.80
4. Reid Grace/Torrance Katherine (GBR) 281.10
5. NG Yan Yee/Sabri Bur Dhabirah Binti (MAS) 280.53
6. Abel Jennifer/Citrini Beaulieu Melissa (CAN) 275.46

3m springboard synchro men
1. Cao Yuan/Xie Siyi (CHN) 458.82
2. Laugher Jack/Mears Chris (GBR) 420.42
3. Zakharov Ilia/Kuznetsov Evgenii (RUS) 376.83
4. Hausding Patrick/Feck Stephan (GER) 365.22
5. Pacheco Marrufo Rommel/Ocampo Marroquin Jahir (MEX) 363.18
6. Gagne Philippe/Imbeau-Dulac Francois (CAN) 314.91
7. Tocci Giovanni/Porco Francesco (ITA) 281.76