Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Russia

The ultimate fourth leg of the 2018 FINA/CNSG Diving World Series kicked off today in Kazan, Russia, booking an exciting weekend for the diving community.

Why heavy favorites China grabbed all synchro gold but one on offer of the Day 1, and which other nations on the podium were, - read on to find out how the events unfolded.

Women’s 10m synchro: China is back on top

In Montreal, one week ago, the Asian power dropped below their usual “sky high standards”, as young duo Si Yajie/Lin Shan landed on third in the women’s 10m synchro platform. Here, in Kazan, it was a different story. They had been diving and training together for two weeks already and, it seems as the time played well for them. It helped both to build up chemistry enough to take gold.

Chinese looked solid in the opening two rounds, but then botched a Forward 3 1/2 Somersaults pike on their third attempt thus giving a chance for a sneak to their chasers. Montreal’s leg#3 winners Mandelela Pamg/Jun Hoong Cheong of Malaysia immediately moved on first, 175.50 points, followed by the North Korean Km Mi Rae/Kim Kuk Hyang with 173.70 points.

However, it was too early to draw conclusions. The fourth dive turned into troubles with the entry for all competitors, but for the Chinese. Si Yajie/Lin Shan, on the contrary, registered a day-high of 76.80 points on their Inward 3 ½ Somersaults with tuck, and regained back composure to lead.

Victorious Lin Shan and Si Yajie in action

 

Finally, all medal contenders saved the most complicated dives for the last, chosing the same 5253B to close their competition. Chinese and North Korean coped with the task better, scoring 75.84 each, and consequently landed gold, 324.24, and silver, 320.58, respectively. Malaysians were 3 points adrift and were content winning bronze, 318.54.

“We are happy we have managed to win gold, - confessed Si Yajie of China. – Our execution was not perfect, we had some problems with the entryl in a number of dives, and we believe there were too splashes, however, we improved on our synchronization, comparing to the previous edition in Montreal”.

“We have been diving together for 2 weeks only, and we like it very much indeed, - added Lin Shan.

“Silver is a good medal, but we are not satisfied. We did not perform our best, and we know we can do much better. We have to work a lot to improve, for instance, our 407C, where stretching was not satisfactory, - commented Kim Kuk Hyang of North Korea”.

“Chinese dived well today and they deserved gold, - said Malaysian Pandelela Pamg. – We are on the way getting ready for the major international competitions of the year, like the World Cup. FINA Diving World Series was a good training, and in particular, Leg #3 in Canada was an absolute success for us, which gave us energy and hope. We were looking determined to do something like this in Kazan, but realized we need to improve our synchronization, as well as execution of optional dives.

Medal ceremony in the women 10m platform

Men’s 10m synchro: First gold for Russia 

In the absence of China, the chase on gold was up to Russia and Ukraine. Both had been competitive throughout the whole season, celebrating two podium appearances each. Maksym Dolgov/Oleksandr Gorshkovozov won silver in Beijing, following magnificent hosts Chen Aisen/Yang Hao of China. Another medal-story happened to them in Fuji on Leg#2, when they landed on third, after a big chase all the way through on their Russian counterparts Viktor Minibaev/Aleksandr Bondar. Then the latter won silver, and soon managed to repeat their success on Leg#3 in Canada, scoring their personal best in the season, 425.28 points.

Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev of Russia celebrate their first gold

This time the floor was Russian, and the hosts showed much commitment to earn the title. They sat the pace and the tempo, booking their lead early. Earning marvelous 9.0 and 9.5 on both optional dives, they soon built up a gap of 10 points ahead of the challengers. Maksym Dolgov and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov never gave up though, and showed a number of worthy dives. Their best was a Forward 4 1/2 Somersaults with tuck in round 5 to buy 83.25 points. A complicated Back 2 1/2 Somersaults 2 2/1 Twist (with DD 3.6) was to seal the competition program for both contenders, and the difference played for the hosts. Earning a day-high 89.64 Minibaev/Bondar collected 432.72 points overall, recording their best total in the 2018 FINA Diving World Series.

“We are happy about the win, but we are quite aware of the fact we will have to work even harder on now, because we are on the way to the major competitions of the diving season. – said Viktor Minibaev. – Chinese did not manage to be a part of the Kazan’s Leg of the FINA Diving World Series, and this made us sad on the one hand, and pretty happy on the other as in their absence we found our way to the top”.

“We did not dive our best, - confessed Oleksandr Gorshkovozov. – We neither suffered major faults, nor shone the brightest. The contest gave us good food for analyses, and we will work on to sharpen our technique, synchronization and entry”.

Women’s 3m springboard: Shi with her teammate pack full gold store

Taking their competition lead with their first dive, Chang Yani teaming legendary Shi Tingmao in the women 3m springboard, never relinquished it. Posting the day-high for their Inward 2 1/2 Somersaults pike at 73.80 points, they amassed 316.20 overall to celebrate their third own gold and the fourth win for their nation in the women’s 3m event. We shall admit, that the first gold in Beijing was earned by Chen Yiwen and Wang Han, registering a total of 336.12 points.

Chang Yani and Shi Tingmao of China are demonstrating their gold to the fans

Since gold was actually a decided matter, Canadian, Australian, British and occasionally Russian were to dive out silver. The part of the hosts, to tell the truth, looked sad. Heading second into the 2nd round, Bazhina and Ilinykh did not keep to the given up-tempo. As the competition progressed, their chances reduced, and in the end, turned to be non-existent. The duo broke their final Reverse 2 2/1 Somersaults pike. 

Bazhina were too hasty to get the dive launched, and her teammate seeing that had nothing to do but to jump helplessly into the water. They finished lowly 5th at a very low 221.40 points overall.

Australian Esther Qin and Melissa Citrini Beaulieu did not always excel, executing some complicated dives, but fought till the very end. As a result, they ranked one step higher, on fourth, with 285.00 points on their pocket.

Grace Reid and Katherine Torrance landed bronze, which was a definite success for their ex-junior duo, 289.29.

Canadian Jennifer Abel/Melissa Citrini Beauleu were definitely the best of the rest after China. Going third after the initial 2 rounds, they steadily improved on their performance. Their best score of the day, 71.61 points, came for the Forward 3 1/2 Somersaults pike, on their 4th dive, and it bought Abel/Citrini Beaulieu the silver piece, one round to go to the finish.

“This is our first senior success, first international medal. This is why we are really happy with the bronze. Provided we had a chance to improve something, we would of course, have trained harder. More training and more competing together would give us more confidence”, - shared Grace Reid.

“It was a good diving day, - said Melissa Citrini Beauleu of Canada. – It was the last leg in the Diving World Series-2018 and we concluded it with a medal, which is the 4th medal in the 4th legs. We have done a good job”.

“We did better than in Canada, but still not the best we can. – confessed Shi Tingmao. - We know what we shall do no – to work on synchronization to improve our performance. We never track our opponents diving, and we believe, that everything is up to ourselves. Go out and dive, and you are the best opponent to compete!”.

Men’s 3m springboard: All gold for China, all silver for Russia

Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi followed their female-compatriots good example to hit all 4 titles in the circuit. Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilia Zakharov were a worthy opponent-duo, and can congratulate themselves on all-season-silver.

Eventual all-round champions were a dominant force throughout the whole final. Their initial lead was laid in compulsory dives, reaching 7.20 points to the next host-challengers. Russians stayed competitive, very competitive as they posted a Back 3 ½ Somersaults with tuck (DD 3.6) on their 3rd round, paid by a handsome 85.32 points (the difference between the two reduced to 0.3 points). However Zakharov/Kuznetsov were not a success in their next dive, earning 10 points less. Cao/Xie on their part executed flawlessly their version of 207C with the same degree of difficulty, returning the gap up to 11.43 points. They sealed their gold in a style, buying the day-high 96.90 for a Forward 4 1/2 Somersaults tucked en route to the overall total of 457.98. Not the highest record they ever set this year, but pretty enough to seal the golden sweep.

Medal ceremony in the men 3m springboard

Ukranian duo Oleksandr Gorshkovozov/Oleg Kolodiy did a very good job, too. Their list was pretty strong and featured a number of dives with a high degree of difficulty. What they missed was some sharpness in the execution. Nevertheless, they have been much stronger than Canadian duo (Philippe Gagne/Francois Imbeau-Dulac finished fourth, 391.11), and their overall total reached 419.82 points. Earning bronze, Gorshkovozov/Kolodiy finished their DWS-2018 campaign on a high.

“We were not perfect, you know. – commented the bronze medal winners on their performance. – We did not do what we can on our third attempt, meaning Inward 3 1/2 Somersaults tucked. As for synchronization, we are quite OK. We have to analyze our mistakes, draw conclusions and maybe change something before the major competitions of the year, which are still ahead of us”.

“We liked competing in Kazan, and we liked the color of the medal we won, - said Xie Siyi of China. – Our opponents were very very strong, Russian Ilia Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov, they have been chasing us all the Diving World Series, and we know they can dive very well”.

“Chinese are always strong, - returned back the compliment Ilia Zakharov of Russia. – And this time we have showed that we can be competing. They are still ahead, but we have the potential to improve our list. All medals of the season are dear to us, we have been pretty consistent throughout the DWS-2018, and won 4 medals, which is a good result”.

“The competition against China is always very tough. To be competitive against them we should be both even better trained and have higher degree of difficulty in our dives. Today we have coped with our list, which was not easy at all. We liked the way we dived, and silver is a good medal. Second means you are second best in the entire world”.

Competition results. FINA Diving World Series 2018. Leg 4.
Day 1 May, 4
10m platform synchro women
1. LIN Shan/SI Yajie (CHN) 324.24
2. KIM Mi Rae/KIM Kuk Hyang (PRK) 320.58
3. CHEONG Jun Hoong/PAMG Pandelela (MAS) 318.54
4. WILLIAMSON Teju/WU Melissa (AUS) 296.94
5. BELIAVA Ekaterina/TIMOSHININA Iuliia (RUS) 296.28
6. Benfeito Meaghan/Mckay Caeli (CAN) 291.06

10m platform synchro men
1. BONDAR Aleksandr/MINIBAEV Viktor (RUS) 432.72
2. DOLGOV Maksym/GORSHKOVOZOV Oleksandr (UKR) 414.09
3. BARTHEL Timo/FANDLER Florian (GER) 345.36

3m springboard synchro women
1. Shi Tingmao/Chang Yani (CHN) 316.20
2. ABEL Jennifer/CITRINI BEAULIEU Melissa (CAN) 301.11
3. REID Grace/TORRANCE Katherine (GBR) 289.29
4. QIN Esther/SMITH Anabelle (AUS) 285.00
5. BAZHINA Nadezhda/ILINYKH Kristina (RUS) 221.40

3m springboard synchro men
1. CAO Yuan/XIE Siyi (CHN) 457.98
2. KUZNETSOV Evgenii/ZAKHAROV Ilia (RUS) 437.43
3. GORSHKOV Oleksandr/KOLODIY Oleg (UKR) 419.82
4. GAGNE Philippe/IMBEAU-DULAC Francois (CAN) 391.11