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China go seven for seven at world diving

July 16, 2019

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GWANJU: Russia’s Svetlana Romashina competes in the solo free artistic swimming event during the World Championships at Yeomju Gymnasium on Monday.—AFP
GWANJU: Russia’s Svetlana Romashina competes in the solo free artistic swimming event during the World Championships at Yeomju Gymnasium on Monday.—AFP

GWANGJU (South Korea): Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen destroyed a quality field to win gold in the men’s 10-metre synchro platform on Monday as China’s peerless divers made it seven from seven at the world championships.

Former Olympic champion Cao and Chen, the reigning Olympic king, racked up a winning total of 486.93 points in Gwangju, South Korea — swatting aside their nearest rivals by a whopping 42 points.

Russian pair Viktor Minibaev and Aleksandr Bondar took silver with Britain’s Tom Daley and Matthew Lee settling for bronze after a botched fifth dive.

Frighteningly for their rivals, Cao insisted there was still room for improvement ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics after adding the 10m synchro gold to the three-metre synchro he bagged at the weekend.

“I didn’t execute every dive the way I wanted tonight,” said the 2012 London Olympic champion.

“I made some mistakes in the entry. My goal is to dive every dive perfectly.”

Chen, who completed a 10m synchro and 10m individual platform double at the 2016 Olympics, warned: “We targeted breaking 500 points before the final and we’re very close to that. That was probably my best performance of the year but we should set our goals higher still.”

Daley expressed his delight at qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after reaching the world championship just eight months after teaming up with Lee.

“We’re massively happy to be world medallists and grab a spot for the Olympic Games,” he told AFP.

“That was the main thing. At this point in the Olympic cycle bronze is as good as gold in my eyes -- to get to the Olympics in the first place, because that’s often the hardest thing.”

Daley will look to retain his individual 10m platform world title this weekend.

Earlier on Monday, favourites Shi Tingmao and Wang Han won synchro gold in the women’s three-metre springboard to continue China’s dominance.

Olympic champion Shi and reigning 3m mixed synchro world champion Wang produced another performance of unerring precision, scoring a total of 342.00 points — more than 30 points clear of the field.

Canada’s Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini Beaulieu took silver while Mexican pair Paola Espinosa Sanchez and Melany Hernandez Torres the bronze.

China scooped a remarkable seven of eight gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and enjoyed a stranglehold again at the last world championships in Budapest two years ago, scooping eight of the 13 titles on offer.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019