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Official: China's Olympic diving lineup is not yet fixed
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09:00, February 25, 2008

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As one of the most important qualifier for the Beijing Olympic Games, most people thought the lineup of the "Good Luck Beijing" FINA Diving World Cup was exactly the lineup of the Olympic Games. However, it was not.

"The lineup of the World Cup does not equal to that in Beijing Olympic Games," announced Zhou Jihong, the director of the Chinese national team.

The World Cup, which ran from Feb. 19 to 24, served as an Olympic qualifier and for that reason attracted many world class divers, like Russia's "diving czar" Dmitry Sautin, Chinese "diving queen" Guo Jingjing and Canadian "golden boy" Alexandor Despatie.

According to FINA, the first eight divers in the final will get the qualification for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Each national federation will submit their final list of divers before the deadline of June 23.

"Until June, our team will still attend many FINA competitions," said Zhou. "The lineup of the Beijing Olympic Games still need some months to decide."

"There is a principle about who to attend the Olympic Games. We will choose the best divers in their best form," Zhou added.

But in the women's three-meter springboard, Zhou said world and Olympic champion Guo will be a sure shot. Her partner in the three-meter synchronized event Guo Jingjing, who beat her in the individual event to win the title on Saturday, is also sure to compete in the Water Cube again during the Olympics.

As for Athens Olympic champion Hu Jia and Peng Bo, who were absent from the World Cup, Zhou said: "They had injuries in the past two years and took a rest for some time. Now they are still recovering. Whether or not they can enter the Olympics will be decided by their performances in the coming months."

China clinched seven out of eight golds offered at the World Cup, but Zhou said it is too early to be happy.

"There were still some world class divers who did not come," Zhou said. "In the men's three-meter springboard and 10-meter platform, Russia didn't send any divers. We just take the World Cup as a training session."

Zhou, China's first Olympic diving champion, said that she was especially satisfied with the women's 10-meter platform event at the World Cup.

"Chen Ruolin and Wang Xin showed their talent in the final," said Zhou. "It was a high level competition, and our divers performed quite well."

Teenagers Chen and Wang were the winner and runner-up respectively in the final, and they paired up to clinch the women's 10-meter platform synchronized gold as well.

Zhou also warned that Chinese divers should keep a cool head because some foreign divers impressed her very much.

Yahel Castillo of Mexico, 21, only 0.30 points behind world champion Qin Kai in the men's three-meter springboard final to take the bronze. The difficulty degree of the 21-year-old's one dive was the highest during the final, and he also got the highest score in the dive.

"I saw Castillo in last September's World Series in Nanjing, and by then he had not learned the dive," Zhou said. "He learned it in recent months and performed it with high quality and consistency, which shows his talent and strength in diving."

Zhou also complimented 14-year-old Thomas Daley of Britain, who took the bronze in the men's 10m platform synchronized event.

"The difficulty degree of his dives has increased a lot since the last time I saw him in England," said Zhou. "He really has some talent and made a lot progress in the past year."

Zhou said that the German Sascha Klein will be a hard challenger for Chinese divers.

Klein beat Chinese Zhou Luxin and Lin Yue to clinch the men's 10-meter platform gold on Sunday.


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