Zhou Xin, FINA Media Committee Member

Making or repeating history. That could easily be the motto of the second day of the diving competition at the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju (KOR), the first one however with finals of the programme. From the side of the nations for which everything seems unchanged, China was once more the powerhouse to beat in the three finals of this Saturday. And the Asian representatives did not disappoint, winning all the three titles at stake. From the side of history-makers, the host nation of the Championships – the Republic of Korea – earned its first-ever medal in this discipline in the history of the event. Moreover, the bronze medal of Suji Kim in the 1m springboard was the first Korean female podium position (all disciplines included) in the history of the FINA showcase (only male swimmer Tae-hwan Park had medalled before her). Mexico also had a nice harvest on this first day, with two bronze medals. 

The finals’ programme started with the mixed 10m platform synchro, where World Cup champions Lian Junjie/Si Yajie grabbed the first gold medal for team China. The pair worked together for the second time as partners after they won in the World Cup in Wuhan last year. 

In Gwangju, they built up the early lead since the first dive and never looked back. They collected a total of 346.14 points, and were followed by Ekaterina Beliaeva/Viktor Minibaev of Russia (311.28). Maria Jose Sanchez (only 14 years old)/Jose Balleza of Mexico completed the podium in 287.64. Closely behind, British pair Noah Williams/Robyn Birch were fourth (285.18), after finishing the penultimate round still in the third position.

This event is held at the World Championships since Kazan 2015. China was always the winner, curiously with today’s champions involved in those victories – with different partners, Si Yajie got the gold in Russia, while two years in Budapest, Lian Junjie was crowned world champion. 

The medallists in the women's 1m sprigboard - Photo by gettyimages

Women’s 1m platform

Chen Yiwen won her first gold medal and second for team China, while Suji Kim celebrated the first medal for the Republic of Korea at these home World Championships.

Chen, fourth-place finisher two years ago in Budapest, led the field from the first dive but could only collect 48 points in her fourth dive (305C). The mistake did not prevent her to get the gold in 285.45 points. Sarah Bacon of the United States made a high-flying worlds debut as she took the silver medal in 262.00. 

The 21-year-old Kim proved “she was back” (by finishing third in 257.20) from a back injury in April 2018 that cost her four months away from training. Kim competed in the Budapest Worlds as a platform diver, but did not enter the finals both in individual and synchro events.

Since 1991, this was the 13th time this event was contested at the FINA showcase: China has now six victories, after recovering the title last obtained in 2013. In 2015, Tania Cagnotto (ITA) had won, while in Budapest 2017, Maddison Keeney (AUS) was the best.   

Men’s 3m springboard synchro

Among the three events on offer this Saturday, only the men's 3m springboard synchro was an Olympic event so far at the Worlds. It was a hard battle in which three pairs took the lead and could have won the competition.

Cao Yuan/Xie Siyi, silver medalists two years ago in Budapest and winners in Kazan, had a roller-coaster final as they started high in the first round but came down to seventh in a rather easy dive (301B with 45 points). The Chinese pair then came from behind, slowly from fourth, second and number one after the fifth round. In the last dive (109C), they performed a steady 90.06 to seal the victory in 439.74.

Jack Laugher/Daniel Goodfellow of Britain were dominating the field after the fourth round but then jumped to third after they made a mistake in the 207C, 10th among all the finalists. The British divers finished with the silver medal in 415.02. 

Yahel Castillo/Juan Manuel Celaya (MEX) - Photo by gettyimages

Yahel Castillo/Juan Manuel Celaya won the second bronze medal for Mexico, with a total of 413.94. 

Home favourites Yeongnam Kin/Haram Woo made local fans crazy in the first half of competition as they tied for second place in the opener and took the lead by scoring the highest number of points in the 201B (51.60) and 5154B (83.64). However, they made big splashes in the 407C for 56.10 and slipped to the 10th overall position with 372.33. 

QUOTES

Lian Junjie (CHN), gold, mixed 10m synchro:

"It was our second time as mixed platform partners. It was also my second World Championships. I was happy that we won the first gold medal in diving for team China in Gwangju."

Si Yajie (CHN), gold, mixed 10m synchro: 

"I have won individual, mixed and synchro titles in my three previous worlds since 2013. However, I did not perform my best today, but fortunately we were the champions! The mixed synchro is not an Olympic event, I need to fight for the Olympic tickets within our national trials in individual and synchro events."

Maria Jose Sanchez (MEX), bronze, mixed 10m synchro: 

“I am only 14 years old. It was my first World Championships, and I was very nervous. However, I thank my experienced male partner, we did a pretty good job today and hopefully we can win more medals for our country.”

Jose Balleza (MEX), bronze, mixed 10m synchro: 

"I just competed at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade with three medals, including one gold in the men's 10m platform. I arrived in Gwangju two days ago and I was still trying to adjust myself. I am happy that we won the first medal at the World Championships for Mexico.”  

Chen Yiwen (CHN), gold, women’s 1m:  

"I was quite disappointed with the fact that I didn’t get a medal in Budapest, and now I lived up my dream with the gold. I’m very happy that all the efforts paid off as we had a six-week training camp for the Worlds Championships in Jinan. It helped me a lot."

Sarah Bacon (USA), silver, women’s 1m:

"I did not expect to win something here since it was my first World Championships. A silver medal will bring me more confidence to compete in the 3m springboard."

Suji Kim (KOR), bronze, women’s 1m: 

"I concentrated only at what I was doing and did not take a look at the results board. I did not know my points and position during the final. I’m excited that I made history for South Korea diving at the Worlds. I will continue to work hard and bring more glory to our team.”

Cao Yuan (CHN), gold, men’s 3m synchro:

"We were happy that we won back the synchro title after the Russian pair edged us last time at the Budapest Worlds. We were too eager to win and did some mistakes in the second and third dive. Then my coach told me to calm down and to focus on the pace and technical details. It helped us to cool down at the end. It was a really good competition.”

Jack Laugher (GBR), silver, men’s 3m synchro: 

“We were proud that we overcame the mistake in the fifth dive and came back at the last. We were satisfied with our performance and results today. For us to qualify for the Olympic Games, that was our simple target. We did a fantastic job."

Daniel Goodfellow (GBR), silver, men’s 3m synchro:    

“I turned to springboard very recently and I still need to do a lot of work on my springboard technique. I also need to try hard to get closer to my partner Jack as the most powerful diver in the world."

Manuel Celaya (MEX), bronze, men’s 3m synchro:   

"It was the second medal we won for Mexico today. The biggest thing was to qualify for the Olympic Games. We did not expect to win the medal at all."

Yahel Castillo (MEX), bronze, men’s 3m synchro:

"I was pleased to compete with the younger generation of divers and I think I am OK at my age as a 32-year-old diver."