Australia’s Cassiel Rousseau Ends Chinese Dominance with 10-Meter Gold

Domonic Bedggood of Australia, Cassiel Rousseau of Australia compete in the 10m Platform Synchro Men Preliminary during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Fukuoka Prefectural Pool in Fukuoka (Japan), July 17th, 2023.
Casseil Rousseau of Australia, right; Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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Australia’s Cassiel Rousseau Ends Chinese Dominance with 10-Meter Gold

Australia’s Cassiel Rousseau was relentless Saturday night at the World Championships in Fukuoka, ending China’s bid to sweep the diving gold medals.

Rousseau picked up the first non-Chinese gold of the meet, scoring 520.85 points to win the 10-meter event. Lian Jianjie of China settled for silver with a score of 512.35, and Yang Hao earned bronze in 504.00.

With China winning the mixed 3-meter synchro courtesy of Zhu Zifeng and Liu Shan, the world’s dominant diving nation won 12 of 13 gold medals and 19 medals total, including all six possible minor medals.

But not men’s platform. Of that, Rousseau made sure.

“In the world of diving anything can happen,” Rousseau said. “Anyone can become the world champion. It all hangs on who can maintain their position at top of the heap, and produce the six most consistent dives on that given day where the final takes place.”

Rousseau required resilience to get his gold. He was just ninth after one round, 12.80 points behind Yang. Lian took the lead in the second round, with Rousseau seventh.

That’s when the charge began. Rousseau tallied 91.80 points on his third dive and 95.40 on the 207B in his fourth. When he scored 81.00 points in the fifth round, he applied pressure that cracked Lian, who delivered the round’s 10th-best dive at 70.20 on his 207B.

That put Rousseau into the lead, and the Aussie nailed the final dive to get over the line, scoring 98.05 on his 109C. That was the same score that Lian put up, and Yang managed 94.35 on his final dive.

“I knew that I was going to come in first place before that final dive,” Rousseau said. “To be honest I was not as nervous as I thought I would be with so much on the line. Rather than being nervous I was just excited by the realization of the fact that I actually had the possibility of taking the gold medal. All my training up until this point has led me to this moment of overwhelming triumph.  To completely fulfill the potential that was granted to me by that final dive was absolutely incredible.”

The points in the final round were, well, interesting. Ten of the 12 diver led or finished second in the scoring in one round or another. That included 11th-place finisher Yeongtaek Kim of South Korea, who delivered the third round’s best dive at 97.20 points. The best dive of the final round rose Mexico’s Randal Willars Valdez from 10th to eighth. Great Britain’s Kyle Kothari was the high scorer of Round 5 on the way to fifth place, and Nathan Zsombor-Murray had the best dive of Round 2. He would finish seventh. Lian didn’t deliver the top time of any round, nor did Yang after the opening dive.

Great Britain’s Noah Williams was fourth, followed by countryman Korthari and Ukrain’s Oleksii Sereda.

China had gotten gold No. 12 with relative ease. Zhu and Lin were tops after every round and delivered the best dive of each round to score 326.10 over five dives. Silver went to Maddison Keeney and Domonic Bedggood, Rousseau’s synchro partner, of Australia with a score of 307.38. Those two medals are the first for Australia in diving in Fukuoka.

Italy won bronze with Chiara Pellacani and Matteo Santoro scoring 294.12 points.

“I’m pretty happy,” Zhu said. “I got a medal last year in Budapest, so I felt the pressure that we needed to win a gold medal again. We could maintain an ordinary mind in today’s competition. As a result, we could get an excellent result. We could perform at the same level as the usual practice times. We have some minor improvements. We can constantly improve how to achieve balance on the jump board and the height when we step off.”

The Australian pair was second the whole way, the lead steadily increasing. Santoro and Pellacani veered within 2.36 points of them after a strong fourth-round dive but couldn’t close the gap, in part thanks to Bedggood and Keeney scoring 77.52 on the final dive, the second-highest score of the session.

“I knew we had potential to win a medal,” Keeney said. “Dominic and I have done a lot of synchro events on and off in the past 6 or 7 years. … We are extremely relieved to be done with this event. It has been a long couple of weeks leading up to this event and it has been stressful for everyone involved. We are happy to finish it off with a bang, and with a splash. It should be smooth sailing going into next year.”s

Suji Kim and Jaegyeong Yi of South Korea finished fourth. Americans Jack Ryan and Krysta Palmer were eighth.

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