North Korean world champion Kim Kuk-hyang was knocked out in the preliminary round of the women’s Olympic 10m diving event as Chinese divers, winners of five of the six titles contested so far, held sway in the opening exchanges in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on Wednesday.
Kim, now 17, upstaged the Chinese at last year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS) to win the PRK’s first-ever aquatics world title but could not reproduce that brilliance on a very hot and sunny afternoon at the open-air pool. Nothing went right for Kim, who had finished fourth with Kim Mi-rae in last week’s synchronised platform event, as she plummeted to 25th of the 28 entrants with 263.20 points from her five dives, a vast 134.25 points behind Chinese top qualifier Si Yajie, her predecessor as world champion. North Korean team-mate Kim Un-hyang, a world bronze medallist in 2015 in the 10m synchro event, just made the cut as last of the 18 qualifiers for Thursday’s semi-final, finishing on 289.45, a minuscule 0.10 points ahead of Laura Marino of France.
Si Yajie, world champion on the platform at 14 in 2013, provided a display of excellence to top the leader-board with 397.45 points from her five dives. Fifteen-year-old Ren Qian, consigned to silver by Kim at the Worlds, was second on 385.80, with Jessica Parratto of the US best of a distanced group of pursuers, third on 346.80.
Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg, Olympic bronze medallist in 2012 and world bronze medallist in 2015, qualified sixth as she aims to add to her Rio medal collection after picking up a silver in the synchronised 10m. Mexico’s Paola Espinosa, world champion in 2009, qualified 13th after an uneven series of dives, two very good, two less so and one she would prefer not to remember.