China remained unbeaten at the 2022 FINA Diving World Cup in Berlin on Sunday when it captured two more golds (and two silvers) in the women’s 3m and men’s 10m finals. In the very last event of the meet, the US won the mixed team title in China’s absence. Japan’s Sayaka MIKAMI and American Brandon LOSCHIAVO also picked up individual bronze medals.
Eight is a lucky number in China, so it’s fitting that China won 8 of 8 golds at the 2022 FINA Diving World Cup, including two more on Sunday. China sat out the ninth event, mixed team, enabling the US to win its first gold medal in Berlin, followed by Germany and Australia. Here is how the day unfolded.
Women’s 3m final
In a slight upset, CHANG Yani beat the reigning world champion CHEN Yiwen in the women’s 3m final to give China seven gold medals in seven events. The two performed identical dives in the identical order and were the only athletes to earn more than 300 points, but CHANG (the 2022 FINA World Championship bronze medalist) led after each round to defeat her teammate by 16.8 points.
The closest the world champion came to overtaking her older teammate was in the second round when 1.5 points separated them.
CHANG won with a personal best 363.75 points and said, “I’m satisfied with four of my rounds today, but two left me wanting more.” When it came to battling her teammate, she said, “We’re very good friends. After a competition, we don’t care who wins – so long as it’s one of us.”
Runner-up CHEN said, “Chang was great today, to be honest. She was amazing,” and was looking forward to a break. “I feel that both of us haven’t fully recovered from Budapest [FINA World Championships]. Having some time to clean my mind and not think too much about results and performance will help me come back even better.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s Sayaka MIKAMI held a firm grip on third place over the last four (of five) rounds to capture bronze. MIKAMI threw the hardest dive of the competition in the final round: a forward 2½ with 2 twists.
Her dive included one more twist than the dive that both CHANG and CHEN saved for last. The extra twist gave Mikami’s dive an additional 0.4 degree of difficulty, but her less-than-vertical entry didn’t allow her to break into the top two. She scored 287.05 for the day as the lone Japanese diver at the World Cup. Next year, Japan will host the 20th FINA World Championships.
Australia’s Brittany O’BRIEN placed fourth, just 0.4 points ahead of Aimee WILSON of Canada. Daniela ZAPATA CORREA of Colombia placed sixth. All told, five continents were represented in the 12-woman final.
Men’s 10m final
In the men’s 10m final, five of the 11 competitors were teenagers, but only one cracked the top-six (15-year-old Josh HEDBERG of the US) while the current world champion YANG Jian of China ironed out his errors from prelims to win handily with 537.70 points and the two hardest dives of the contest.
YANG Jian maintained a firm lead over all six rounds and scored more than 90 points in four of them, including an event-high 97.20 on his penultimate dive, a back 3½ pike. His last dive, however, carried a rare 4.1 DD, a stunning forward 4½ in pike position that earned 92.25 points.
“This 109B dive is one I’ve kept for nine years,” YANG Jian said. “But this dive is very difficult on my body, especially my knees. This is not an easy dive to train for, but in the competition, I always want to keep this dive in my routine.”
It worked, because YANG Jian’s total score in Berlin was 22 points higher than his winning score at the FINA World Championships in July.
“I was able to show a better performance here than I did in Budapest,” he said. “Of course, better does not mean the best. I have more and better performance that I can show.”
China’s YANG Hao took silver, 65.50 points behind his countryman. Brandon LOSCHIAVO of the US hovered in podium range all day and moved into third at the midpoint of the contest. He had to surpass his teammate HEDBERG, though, who – after round two – was in second place between the two YANGs. HEDBERG’s quasi-undoing, however, was an arched entry on his fourth dive, a reverse 3½ tuck that only garnered 44.20 points. But the teenager was still in fourth place with two dives remaining.
In the next round, Sebastian VILLA CASTANEDA of Colombia overtook the young American on his fifth dive, a forward 4½ tuck with 3.7 DD – but just barely.
Experience prevailed in the end as YANG Jian, 28, YANG Hao, 24, and LOSCHIAVO, 25, went 1-2-3. The 30-year-old VILLA placed fourth, just 0.8 points ahead of HEDBERG (who was half his age and earned $2,000 for fifth place). Germany’s Timo BARTHEL, 26, placed sixth for the host nation.
Mixed team event
The meet ended with the lightning-quick mixed team event. It featured five teams and six rounds of diving. The order for each team was: 3m woman, 3m man, 3m mixed synchro pair, 10m woman, 10m man, 10m mixed synchro pair. Every score counted. The highest cumulative point total determined the winner. Since the same individual divers weren’t required to team up for synchro, the rosters varied in size. Pandelela PAMG, for example, made four of the six dives for Malaysia. And since depth was crucial, the standings fluctuated quite a bit.
In the end, USA won with 375.80 points, followed by Germany (370.85) and Australia (365.65). Colombia placed fourth. Malaysia was fifth.
The winners included Kristen HAYDEN (who already had a bronze medal from women’s 3m synchro), 19-year-old Tyler DOWNS (who earned silver earlier in men’s 3m synchro), Katrina YOUNG (a silver medalist in women’s10m synchro), and Zachary COOPER who earned the mixed team’s highest score in the fifth round, on the 10m platform.
“I’d never done this team even format before but I liked it,” Cooper said. “It’s quite cool.”
As for his individual 10m dive (a 6245D with a 3.6 degree of difficulty), Cooper said, “The handstand was a great feeling. When I hit the water, I was like, ‘Ah, yeah, that’s the high DD dive we needed to hit.’”
But the final dive, and inward 3½ with Katrina Young, he said, “I was a little disappointed. We went a little over with our rotations. Luckily, [we held] on to win by [almost] 5 points. Seeing our name go up on the scoreboard right above Germany, that felt great.”
Germany’s silver medalists were: Saskia OETTINGHAUS (silver medalist in women’s 3m synchro), Timo BARTHEL (who did both 3m and 10m individual dives and earned silver earlier in men’s 10m synchro), Lou MASSENBERG (who performed both synchro dives and already had a silver in men’s 10m synchro), and Pauline PFEIF.
2022 FINA Diving World Cup medal tally:
China (12): 8 gold, 4 silver
USA (6): 1 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze
Germany (4): 3 silver, 1 bronze
Australia: 2 bronze
Japan: 1 bronze
Colombia: 1 bronze