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Russian upsets Chinese to lead springboard priliminaries

(Xinhua)

10:11, August 07, 2012

LONDON, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Russian diver Ilya Zakharov upset China's defending Olympic champion He Chong to lead the men's 3m springboard preliminaries at the London Games on Monday.

The world championships runner-up collected 507.65 points from six rounds, while China's He stood in second place with 500.90.

He, ninth after his opening dive, caught up to second after his fifth dive that earned the highest score of 91.2 points in the preliminaries.

American Troy Dumais was third at 486.60 after rallying from sixth in the fourth round.

Another Chinese diver Qin Kai, the winner of the springboard synchro event, cruised into the semifinal with a 11th place.

Zakharov, who earlier won a silver medal in the synchro event with partner Evgeny Kuznetsov, was very excited to lead the preliminary ahead of powerful Chinese.

"I'm really satisfied with my diving today," he said. "Tomorrow will be a really tough competition."

"Now the first task for me is to do a good job in the semifinal tomorrow morning. I really hope I could be the last one to present in the final," he said. The highest scorer from the semifinal dives last in the final.

Canadian prodigy Alexandre Despatie, runner-up at the Athens and Beijing Games, finished ninth.

His coach Aaron Dziver played down Despatie's chances for the final. "We had a small hope of making the top 12. I'm really pleased with the way he finished his set of dives with the last dive which is fairly difficult," he said.

Despatie said he had to focus more on his techniques for all the dives since a training accident. "There is a lot of room to improve for tomorrow."

He was just back in action weeks after a terrifying accident in which he sliced his head open after hitting the board.

Despatie lost balance while practising an inward three and a half somersault in Madrid of Spain in June and had to have surgery.

Before the games, he said he was "lucky in his misfortune", as had he hit the board at a different angle the concussion would have been severer and ruled out his chances for his fourth Olympic Games.

Germany's Stephan Feck withdrew from the preliminaries after a failed third dive which made him faint.

He, the defending Olympic champion and 2009 and 2011 world champion, is likely to retain the title and keep China on course for all eight diving titles at London Games.

The top 18 finishers in the 29-man field advanced to Tuesday morning's semifinals, and the top 12 finishers at the semis will qualify for the final scheduled on Tuesday evening.

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