FINA World Championships, Diving: China Starts Off Strong, Wins Women’s Three-Meter Synchro

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SHANGHAI, China, July 16. THE first gold medal of the 2011 FINA World Championships went to the host nation as Wu Minxia and He Zi dominated the women's three-meter synchronized diving event.

The duo tallied a top score of 356.40 to win by more than 40 points, never once being in trouble of not winning the gold medal. The win is Wu's fifth world title out of the last six tries. Her previous titles all came while diving with Guo Jingjing. Guo also teamed with Li Ting in 2005 to now give China six straight world titles in the event. Russia's Irina Lashko and Yulia Pakhalina (1998) are the only other world title team in the event's history.

"We encouraged each other a lot, and it's very important for winning the title," Wu said. "He Zi competed with injury, it's very difficult for her. Finally we beat all the rivals for the title, it's a test for us and we made it. We are the best. Our rivals are very good but we did better."

Canada's Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel took silver with 313.50 points, while Australia's Anabelle Smith and Sharleen Stratton claimed bronze with 306.90 points. The silver for Canada is its first diving metal in the event's history, while Australia has won bronze (2007). The U.S. team of Christina Loukas and Kassidy Cook wound up seventh with 288.00.

The men's individual one-meter springboard preliminary competition also began today with China putting itself in position for a strong finish. Li Shixin (438.00) and He Min (432.95) topped preliminary qualifying in the event, while Spain's Javier Illana Garcia finished a distant third with 408.45 points.

"Not all of the best athletes come to Shanghai this time," Li said. "It's my first time to take part in world championships, but I have earned lots of experiences. My coach has warned me about some potential situations, so I believe I can handle all the problems. There are too many athletes, so I just practiced in this ground for seven times before the competition starts.

"I don't want to think about the finals," Li continued. "It changes all the time. I will try my best and hope I can grow up through the competition. I felt a little bit nervous in my first international competition. My coach has told me about the all the situations that might happen in the match, so I am ready. I made a mistake in my third dive but I don't need to make special adjustment. I might read magazine or listen to the music for relaxation."

Mexico's Daniel Islas (393.85), USA's Chris Colwill (387.80), Germany's Pavlo Rozenberg (385.40), Canada's Reuben Ross (378.50), Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov (378.25), USA's Aaron Fleshner (373.20), Poland's Andrzej Rzeszutek (369.60), Sweden's Alexander Andresen (363.95) and Norway's Amund Gismerivk (362.90) all made the finale.