Chinese divers soar en route to Tokyo
At the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, which were also the qualifiers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, China overwhelmingly dominated the diving events, taking home 12 gold medals out of 13. It completed its plunder with nine silver medals and one bronze. Australia won the 3m mixed duo event, taking advantage of the last-minute forfeit by China's Yang Hao, who preferred to focus on the 10m final scheduled for the same day.
China has never dominated the World Diving Championships to such an extent. Its medal haul highlights the country's wealth of talent, especially the immense ability of its individual divers, both seasoned competitors, as well as those new to this level of competition. The prestigious 10m event symbolised this domination via a double win by Yang Jian and Yang Hao, who dazzled the audience by achieving the highest score, a total of six tens between them.
Victorious Yang Jian Kisses the Pool
In 2017, Yang Jian won a bronze medal in Budapest and has since gained mastery, power and precision. "My right foot was injured during the winter, and I couldn't train for many months," he explained. "I overcame the highs and lows in the highly contested national qualifiers. These were my third World Championships and I had to finish with a beautiful dive. Out of all finalists, mine was the most delicate dive with the highest factor of difficulty. I am pleased to have succeeded." His final dive, a forward 4 1/2 somersault pike classified as a 109B, brought him an impressive total of 114.80 points. Filled with joy, he kissed the pool a few moments later.
Yang Hao won the 10m synchronised duo world title in 2017 and was determined to win the championship title as an individual. But despite six dives without the slightest error, which earned him a maximum score of 10 for 13 times, he could not overtake his compatriot Yang Jian due to a lower degree of difficulty. "I pulled out of the 3m mixed event to better prepare for the 10m final. I think that worked out well," he stated. "'I received the maximum score 13 times. It was my first 10m world final and I'm very pleased with my performance."
Tom Daley Blows His Final
The 10m two-time world champion and bronze-medal winner at the Olympic Games London 2012, British star Tom Daley, was another serious contender for victory. But after an excellent opening dive that put him in the lead, he gradually lost his rhythm, finally finishing in a disappointing 7th place.
He decided to participate in the finals of the mixed 3m synchronised, finishing in 4th place with his partner, Grace Reid. "I didn't feel especially tired," he said. "It wasn't my day. I got off to a great start, but then, I couldn't find the rhythm. This greatly motivates me for next year. The Chinese divers were incredible, and I can't wait to get back to training to compete with them at the Olympic Games and in the World Series."
Shi Tingmao's Winning Streak
In the women's competition, Shi Tingmao continued her reign as the queen of the 3m, despite suffering from kidney pain. She was consistently very flexible on her take-off and achieved the top score in five of her six dives among the finalists. Already a two-time world champion, the 27-year-old from China is aiming for a third at the Tokyo Games, after her success in London and Rio. At the Korean World Championships, she beat her fellow countryman Wang Han, who took home a silver in 2015 and 2017.
In the 10m, China bet on its young divers, which paid off in the success of Chen Yuxi. This was the first World Championships for the 13 year old. She will be turning 14 in September, which could make her Tokyo 2020's youngest Olympic champion. In Gwangju, she showed great mental strength, winning both the semi-final and the final with a total of 439 points. She achieved the maximum score of 10 twice.
Two months younger than Chen, her fellow countrywoman, Lu Wei, finished second in front of the experienced Australian, Delaney Schnell, who rose from fifth place in the semi-final to take home the bronze medal. After the competition, Chen explained that winning the world title was her secret dream. There will be great expectations for her at the next Olympic Games.