Last dive collapse cost British star Jack Laugher the gold medal in the men's 3m springboard final at the 18th FINA World Championships here on Thursday as the reigning champion Xie Siyi defended his title, extending the Chinese winning streak to seven wins since 2007.
The last non-Chinese champion was Alexandre Despatie of Canada when he snatched the gold medal at the 2005 Montreal Worlds. Then Qin Kai, He Chong three times in a row, He Chao and Xie Siyi continued the unbeaten run for China until 2017.
The men's 3m springboard final was like a three-man showdown among Jack Laugher, Rio Olympic champion Cao Yuan and defending champion Xie Siyi.
Laugher, fifth place finisher two years ago in Budapest, kept the top position since his first dive and scored a game-high 105.30 for his fourth attempt - 5156B (Forward 2 1/2 somersault 3 twist). His 109C (Forward 4 1/2 somersault) was as high as 102.60, about 30 points higher than Xie. He then suffered a 207C crash (back 3 1/2 somersault tuck) for 30.60, the lowest mark among all the finalists. The 24-year-old had to concede to a bronze in 504.55 points.
Xie started from fourth in first round, then moved to third in his second attempt and stayed among top three with Cao before the last dive, a 109C, his only 100 plus score (102.60). He collected a total of 545.45 for the gold.
Rio Olympic champion Cao, winner in the synchro 10m platform and 3m springboard in Gwangju, was competitive all the way and collected his third medal by finishing 517.85 for the silver medal.
Woo Haram of South Korea finished fourth in 478.80 and David Boudia of the United States, 2012 Olympic champion on platform, ended up in fifth place.
Xie Siyi (CHN), gold:
“It was a close game that Jack performed very well today. I looked at the score board after the third round and then I focused on myself. I did not watch Jack's last dive but I comforted him before the awarding ceremony. It was very difficult for me to get high scores during the whole competition and when I heard the results, I roared to myself that I fought until the last moment. I was proud of myself as I regained the title.”
Cao Yuan (CHN), silver:
“I was happy that I got my third medal in Gwangju, from springboard and platform. It was the first time I competed in three events at Worlds, I was in great pressure, both mentally and physically. I had some errors in my last two dives, but I was tired and I tried my best today.”
Jack Laugher (GBR), bronze:
“It's a curious feeling… I had five amazing dives and then I make a mistake in my last 207C. I did not look at my video but I must have some technical problems in this dive since I had the same mistake in the semifinal yesterday. I put this dive as the last one all the time. I hit the wall with my right fist after I saw the results. I was angry about myself because I'm so passionate about diving in my life. When you could potentially make history and do such a good performance and then you make the mistake, I was really angry. But it's OK, I hope this might help me getting stronger next year at the Tokyo Olympic Games.”