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Diving roundup: China dominates, challenge emerges
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15:36, August 24, 2008

When 140 divers from 29 Beijing Olympic delegations ended their competitions in eight categories on Saturday, Chinese divers stunned the world by snatching seven of all the eight gold medals on offer.

China topped the medal tally with an extraordinary achievement of seven golds, one silver and three bronzes, while Australia finished second with one gold and one silver, followed by Russia with three silvers and two bronzes, Canada two silvers, Germany one silver and one bronze, Mexico and Ukraine one bronze each.

Although it is the best diving result China has made in Olympic Games, there are still regrets. The host nation was only one step away from making a clean sweep, as the United Stated did in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

  CHINA'S DOMINANCE

By bagging seven of all the eight diving golds on offer, China has once again proved its undisputed domination. The Chinese diving team claimed five golds at 2000 Sydeny Olympics and further took a record six at 2004 Athens Olympics.

With "diving queen" Guo Jingjing and fellow Wu Minxia, the gold of the women's 3m springboard and synchro 3m springboard seemed quite certain. The 26-year-old Guo defended her two titles with breeze, becoming the first diver who collected four golds and two silvers in the Games.

Young diver He Chong continued China's winning stretch in 3m springboard, while veteran Wang Feng and world champion Qin Kai claimed the title of synchro 3m springboard, which was lost in 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Teenager Chen Ruolin made perfect Olympic debut in the Water Cube by winning the women's 10m platform gold, which had been lost in the previous two Games. Chen also crowned the synchro platform title with partner Wang Xin.

Though people worried a lot about the men's 10m platform synchro, since the bad form of Lin Yue recently, the gold was still claimed by the host, as Lin and Huo Liang performed fantastically in the final.

THE REGRET OF THE HOST NATION

In 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, the United States had dominated the diving event, as American divers swept all the gold medals.

In 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China has had great hope to snatch it all as Chinese divers swept the first seven successfully, however making a clean sweep is still too good to be true.

The men's high dive has been a problem for China since the retirement of Sydney Olympic gold medalist Tian Liang. Meanwhile, Hu Jia, the individual gold medalist in Athens, was kept out of the squad by injuries.

China lost the gold in the event at the 2007 Melbourne worlds as Russian Gleb Galperin beat the Chinese favourite Zhou Luxin and Lin Yue for the victory. It was also the only gold China lost in the 2008 FINA Diving World Cup as Germany's Klein Sascha was crowned.

Now in the Beijing Games, it is again the only regret for the Chinese diving team.

On Saturday's 10m platform final, Chinese favourite Zhou Luxin was too nervous to dive well in the last round that he only scored 74.80 points, while Australian Matthew Mitcham made an almost perfect dive scoring 112.10 to win the last gold.

Zhou Jihong, team leader of the Chinese diving team, seemed heartbreaking and left the venue quickly without a word.

EMERGING CHALLENGE IN THE WORLD

Although China claimed seven of the eight gold medals on offer in the diving events at the Beijing Games, it doesn't mean the gap of the capability between the Chinese divers and their foreign counterparts expands. Actually, it reduces.

Years ago when triple Olympic champion Fu Mingxia ruled the women's diving, the mark margin was always as many as 40 to 50 points. Compared with that time, now the advantage of the Chinese divers has reduced a lot and even a small mistake would made them loss the gold.

Australia, Russia, Canada, and Germany is still quite strong in the Beijing Games, especially Australia, which seized a gold medal. Australia will still be an important force in diving, as it has a team composed of top young divers, including 20-year-old gold medalist Matthew Mitcham and 16-year-old synchro silver medalist Melissa Wu.

The United States and Britain got nothing in diving at the Beijing Games, but they are hoped to be luckier in 2012 London Olympics, as they also have some good young divers.

Amerian 18-year-old Thomas Finchum and 19-year-old David Boudia are both very talented, they finished fifth in men's synchro springboard. Thomas Daley of Britain, only 14, the youngest among all the divers in the Beijing Olympics, is also a promising star.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 50 20 28 98
2 USA 34 37 36 107
3 Russia 22 21 27 70
4 Great Britain 19 13 15 47
5 Germany 16 10 15 41
6 Australia 14 15 17 46
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