At the FINA Diving World Cup on Friday, reigning world champions delivered a clean sweep of gold medals for China.
Yet again, China displayed its diving dominance on Friday. At the FINA Diving World Cup 2022, the country went 3-for-3 in gold medals and picked up a silver as well. Here’s how the men’s and women’s 10m synchro events and the individual men’s 3m contest went down:
Women’s 10m Synchro final
The first World Cup final featured a tiny field, and China’s 2022 world champions did just enough to win. In the women’s 10m synchro event, teenagers CHEN Yuxi and QUAN Hongchan soundly defeated the runners-up from the US by 88.26 points after five rounds of diving. Since there were no other entrants, China pocketed $6,000 and the new American pair of Katrina Young, 30, and Nike AGUNBIADE, 21, claimed $5,000. (Earlier this summer, Young earned a silver medal at the FINA World Championships with Delaney Schnell.)
Both duos performed the same dives but the US never earned more than 7.5 points from any of the seven judges while China routinely tallied 8.5’s and 9.0’s.
Despite the victory, Chen said, “What’s most in our minds is that we could do better. We had some mistakes in our first four dives. We still have the space for executing some better performances.”
All four athletes will return for the women’s individual 10m on Saturday, but only Young will compete in a third event in Berlin: the mixed team final on Sunday.
Men’s 10m Synchro final
In the men’s 10m synchro final, once again, the reigning world champions from China led after every round to take the gold. LIAN Junjie and YANG Hao didn’t have – or need – the most difficult dive list to amass 444.84 points.
Afterwards Lian acknowledged, “the degree of difficulty of our dives in the third [and fifth] rounds isn’t too high; it’s a little bit too easy for us.” But, he added, “it makes it easier for us to achieve high execution scores in the early round dives.”
Ultimately, the real battle was for silver and bronze in the four-team field.
The shake-up came in the fifth round (of six) when the US vaulted from fourth place into second on a back 2½ with 2½ twists (with a 3.6 DD) that scored 66.96 points. The Americans Zachary COOPER and Max FLORY had the hardest two dives in the competition and saved them both for last, but on their final dive, they mistimed the entry on their forward 4½ (with 3.7 DD), leaving room for Colombia and Germany to get on the podium with dives of 3.4 DD and 3.2 DD, respectively.
On the very last dive of the contest, Germany needed just 60.63 points to overtake Colombia for second place. In the end, Lou MASSENBERG and Timo BARTHEL did better than that, scoring 70.08 on a back 2½ with 1½ twists to seal the silver medal for the host nation. Colombia’s Alejandro SOLARTE and Sebastian VILLA CASTANEDA edged out the US by 63-hundredths of a point for bronze.
Men’s 3m final
The men who went 1-2 at the 19th FINA World Championships this summer in Budapest did it again on Friday, nearly 900 km away in Berlin. All day, China’s world champ and 2020 Olympic silver medalist WANG Zongyuan was on fire. Remarkably, five of his six dives topped the 90-point mark (including a 5156B with a 3.9 DD in the third round which scored 99.45). Wang scored 562.20 points for the day.
Despite posting giant numbers, Wang said, “I’m not focused on the scores during the competition, just the execution.”
Runner-up CAO Yuan took silver, 48.35 points behind his teammate.
“I’m not too satisfied, especially with my dives in the last two rounds,” said Cao, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist on 3m. “I was normal, not perfect, but not bad, either.”
The most interesting twist emerged in the fifth round when 20-year-old Moritz WESEMANN of Germany edged past 34-year-old LI Shixin into podium position with his best dive of the day, a forward 4½ (with 3.8 DD) that scored 81.70 points. But the young German saved his hardest dive for last: a forward 2½ with 3 twists – the same dive that Wang nailed earlier to earn the meet-high score. Entering the final round, Wesemann had a 16.45-point cushion over Li, but how would he fare under pressure?
Answer: just fine. Wesemann scored 79.95 with it, enough to take bronze for the host nation with a total score of 432.40. Li placed fourth, 28.15 points behind the German.
Still to come:
Diving will continue on Saturday with three finals: women’s 3m synchro, men’s 3m synchro, and the women’s individual 10m event.