FINA World Championships, Diving: Chinese Juggernaut Keeps Rolling, Six-For-Six In Gold Medal Opportunities

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SHANGHAI, China, July 19. CHINA has been unstoppable in diving events with a gold-medal sweep still in the making at the FINA World Championships held in Shanghai. At this point in the competition, it has become China vs. the World, with the world just trying to crack into the gold medal spot to spoil a sweep.

To begin the evening, China swept the top two spots in the women's one-meter springboard event. Shi Tingmao won the world title in comeback fashion with a monster final dive of 70.20 points for a winning tally of 318.65. She jumped ahead of teammate Wang Han, who wound up with silver with 310.20 points.

"I am not chosen into the national team yet, so the gold medal would help me and my team a lot in the future," Shi said. "I have confidence in every contest. Unlike the Asian Games, this event provides a good chance for top divers from all over the world to compete in the same pool. So to be honest, I was nervous."

The 1-2 sweep is the second time in the event's history that China has accomplished the feat. Previously, Chen Lixia and Tan Shuping took gold and silver in 1994. The women's one-meter is historically one of China's weakest events, as China has now won gold in the one-meter four out of the nine times it has been offered. Winning gold today definitely set the table for China to complete the gold medal sweep.

Italy's Tania Cagnotto beat out compatriot Maria Elisabetta Marconi, 295.45 to 290.15, for the final spot on the podium.

"I broke my wrist and leg in an accident last month, so I had to take nearly a month to rest, and I just had two-and-a-half weeks to train for worlds," Cagnotto said. "I feel really honored to get so close to these two Chinese divers."

Abby Johnston (282.85) and Kelci Bryant (274.25) took sixth and ninth for the United States in the women's one-meter springboard event.

"I am pleased about my performance today, although I can do better," Johnston said. "I am proud of myself. The Chinese are really consistent, and they are beautiful divers."

To close the evening, China collected its fourth consecutive world title in the men's three-meter synchronized event. Qin Kai and Luo Yutong put on a show with a nearly flawless evening en route to a winning tally of 463.98. The only round in which the duo did not have the best dive came in the final round.

"Our rivals gave us a lot of pressure, especially for the final dive," Qin said. "They made a few difficult dives. However, we kept our confidence and solved the problem. I'm happy to have the chance to take part in the worlds"

Qin has now been part of three straight gold medals in the event with wins in 2007 and 2009 with former partner Wang Feng. Wang and He Chong earned the 2005 title for China. Overall, China has won six of the seven world titles offered since the event's inception in 1998. Russia's Aleksandr Dobroskok and Dmitriy Sautin spoiled the party with a win at the 2003 Barcelona Championships.

Russia's Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov took silver with 451.89 points, Russia's first medal in the event since Dobroskok and Sautin won the world title back in 2003.

"The Chinese divers are very experienced as they have taken part in a lot of competitions, including the Olympic Games," Zakharov said. "But I don't think we can't compete with them, we will do our best. But, here in Shanghai, it's easy for the Chinese divers to win the title, because they have their home swimming pool."

Mexico's Yahel Castillo and Julian Sanchez took advantage of a last-round mistake by the United States to earn bronze with 437.61 points. It is Mexico's second medal in the event's history. Joel Rodriguez and Fernando Platas picked up silver in 2001 in Fukuoka. The U.S. duo of Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais were in position to win either silver or bronze in the final round, but settled for fourth with 429.06 points.

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