Dubai: The ever-impressive Chinese diving team kicked off their FINA/NVC Diving World Series Dubai 2014 campaign on Thursday in their usual dominant manner, taking the first two gold medals on offer in convincing fashion.
The first session of the competition programme provided a breathtaking display of world-class diving, much to the delight of several hundred schoolchildren, who came to the Hamdan Sports Complex to see multiple world and Olympic champions in action.
The first event on the programme was the women’s 10m synchro platform final and the Chinese world champions Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia were hot favourites. After taking gold in the first round of the FINA/NVC Diving World Series in Beijing last weekend, they maintained their form, taking the lead with their first dive and never letting it slip, finishing with 337.56. Their final dive, 5253B, a back two-and-a-half somersault with one-and-a-half twists, earned them 82.56, the highest score of the women’s final.
Their biggest threat came from Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Mun Yee Leong, who finished in second with 314.64, 22.92 points behind the Chinese. The Malaysian duo were happy with their result, Pamg commenting: “We did OK today, better than Beijing [where they took bronze]. Our synchro was good but I felt a bit fatigued. We’ll just keep training hard and work more on our synchro”.
Canada’s diminutive duo of Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, who took silver in Beijing, had to settle for bronze with 309.09. Filion said: “In general it was pretty good. Our synchro was good but I was shaky on the fourth dive.”
“Still, we scored two more points than in Beijing, so that’s OK. It’s only our second competition since the World Championships in Barcelona last July, so it’s good to be competing again,” added Benfeito.
Finishing only 3.72 points behind the Canadians were the Mexican duo of Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco. The pair started well, but an inconsistent performance put them out of medal contention, despite producing the best dive of the round in round three, and they finished with 305.37.
Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch of Great Britain finished in fifth with 293.22, ahead of Russia’s Ekaterina Petukhova and Yulia Timoshinina in sixth with 273.09, USA’s Anna James and Gracia Leydon Mahoney in seventh with 272.64 and Villo Kormos and Zsofia Reisinger of Hungary in eighth with 269.16.
The second event of the morning was the men’s 10m synchro platform and again the Chinese pair of Lin Yue and Cao Yuan dominated from the outset.
“We are happy with this result; we dived well today and our synchro was good. We scored better than in Beijing,” said Lin.
Their first dive, a 101B forward dive pike, scored the first ten of the competition from one of the execution judges. Their top scoring dive of the day was 97.68 for a 109C forward four-and-a-half tuck, which gave them an unassailable lead and saw them finish with 475.32, 37.56 points ahead of the German world champions Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding.
The German’s first dive put them in third place, but they moved into the silver medal position on the second dive and stayed there for the remainder of the competition, finishing with 437.76 adding to the silver they won in Beijing last week.
“We improved on our performance in Beijing, it’s always difficult to beat the Chinese but we just try to concentrate on our dives,” said Hausding.
“Of course, we watch what they are doing and use it to motivate us and to push ourselves harder,” added Klein.
The British pair of Daniel Goodfellow and Matthew Lee added another bronze to the one they picked up in Beijing, finishing with 380.52 ahead of the Italian pair of Francesco Dell’Uomo and weekend.
Goodfellow said: “We felt strong out there, this is only our third competition together, so we are happy with that. We haven’t had much training time together as I am in Plymouth and Matthew is in Leeds, so we just need more time”.
“We are pretty new to synchro so our main objective with this series is to get experience and we are diving against the best divers to its good to compete with them,” said Lee.
“We are delighted to see these amazing divers competing again in Dubai,” said Ahmad Al Falasi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation. “It is exciting to see world-class diving again, and we look forward to enjoying the competition over the next two-and-a-half days,” he added.
Friday’s three-metre individual springboard semi-finals for men and women run from 10am-noon, with the finals from 5-7pm. The final day of competition on Saturday sees the 10m platform semi-finals from 10am to noon, followed by the finals from 5-7pm.
On Friday, the UAE Swimming Federation will offer children the opportunity to compete in a series of fun 50m swimming races ‘Fast Fifties’ swum in a 25m format. The event will be held from 3pm to 4.30pm and is open to all beginner swimmers aged eight-12. The races will be in the following format: 50m freestyle, 50 backstroke and 4×50 freestyle relay. The programme will also run on Saturday in the following format: 50m breaststroke, 50 butterfly and 4×50 IM relay. Registration can be done on the day or in advance to email@example.com.
Tickets to catch all the action at the FINA/NVC Diving World Series are available at the door at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Emirates Road. Tickets are Dh40 per day. Entry is free for children under 12.