China poised to sweep diving medals at worlds
Even a rare mistake didn't stop China's dominating diving run at the world championships in Shanghai.
Olympic platform champion Chen Ruolin rallied to win the women's 10-metre title Thursday after her teammate's miss in the next-to-last round, giving the host country its seventh gold medal and 10th overall in the world championships.
With three events remaining, China is poised to sweep the diving medals for the first time at worlds.
Chen, the silver medallist two years ago in Rome, finished with 405.30 points.
It was Chen's second gold, having won the 10-metre synchro with partner Wang Hao on Monday. The 19-year-old Chen won platform synchro at the Beijing Olympics.
Her teammate Hu Yadan overcame her mistake to earn five perfect 10s on her final dive and claim the silver with 394.00.
"It is Hu Yadan's first world championships, therefore it's natural she got a little bit nervous," said Chen, who lost to Hu at a World Cup meet. "We all have room to grow and it will be very good practice for her."
Defending champion Paola Espinosa of Mexico took the bronze with 377.15.
"Since the last world championships to this one, the Chinese athletes have already improved a lot in their skills, as well as their degree of difficulty, so it was definitely not an easy competition for me," Espinosa said.
Montreal's Meaghan Benfeito was fourth at 375.50 and Roseline Filion of Laval, Que., eighth at 333.00. By reaching the final, the two assured Canada of two Olympic berths in the event.
"It's heartbreaking not to get on the podium," said Benfeito. "I knew throughout the competition that I was contending for a medal."
Hu overtook Chen for the lead in the third round, with an armstand back double somersault with 1½ twists that earned two 10s. Hu moved ahead by 9.1 points.
But the 15-year-old Hu botched the entry on her next dive, with her legs smacking the water on a backward 3½ somersault that drew gasps from the fans on a sweltering afternoon with smog and haze obscuring the sun at the outdoor pool. It was the hardest dive of the competition.
"I was kind of nervous after the third dive," Hu said. "On the fourth dive, I wanted to do really well but I missed it. After that, I felt like I had nothing to lose, that's why I tried everything I could to make the last dive."
The mistake dropped Hu from first to third going into the last round, with Chen leading and Benfeito second.
"You always hope for an opening but they know how to finish well, they know how to do their dives properly," Benfeito said. "It's not because of one complete miss that they're going to lose."
Both Chinese did the same last dive, a backward 2½ somersault with 1½ twists.
Hu received encouraging applause as her tiny figure appeared on the tower to finish the event. She responded with a dive that barely created a splash, earning the five 10s and two 9.5s.
Chen's marks ranged from 7.5 to 8.5, but she had a 25-point lead over Benfeito after four dives that easily won her the gold.
"Actually on the last round of dives, I was quite nervous. I don't remember what I was thinking about," Chen said.
Hu's effort moved her into second, while Benfeito dropped to fourth — her same finish in Rome.
"Fourth again — but just a point and a half," Benfeito said. "It hurts but I dove absolutely amazing. I haven't dove that well internationally since Rome."
Espinosa did the same dive as the Chinese in the final round, with marks as high as 8.5.
Earlier, He Chong and teammate Qin Kai were the top two qualifiers on men's three-metre, putting China in position to win more medals in Friday's final.