Nanjing 2014: Diver Yang Hao swoops to double gold
China’s Yang Hao dominated the men’s events at Nanjing 2014, claiming both individual golds. He was joined on the podium on both occasions by Mexico’s Rodrigo Diego Lopez and Canada’s Philippe Gagne, who each came away with a silver and bronze.
Yang plays it cool
Though the crowd at Nanjing’s Natatorium greeted his victory in the men’s 3m springboard with understandable enthusiasm, 16-year-old Chinese diving sensation Yang Hao appeared largely unmoved. After recording a winning score of 614.80, he simply said: “I’ve just realised I’ve got the gold medal. I’m not too moved, I’ve simply done my job out there.”
The undemonstrative ace brought the home fans to their feet with his final dive, a 3.0-degree-difficulty forward two-and-a-half somersault with one twist that earned him almost perfect marks from the judges. “The crowd cheering so warmly helped me a lot,” acknowledged Yang. “I was feeling a little nervous in the beginning but felt better dive after dive.”
Yang, who comfortably held off his rivals in the final, added that he was not particularly satisfied with his performance: “During training I generally do better than this.”
Mexico’s Rodrigo Diego Lopez stacked up 593.65 points to land the silver. “I feel really good,” said the Mexican. “Through the competition I always expected the gold. At the end it doesn’t come [home] with me but I am happy with the result.”
Bronze medallist Philippe Gagne (CAN) said he was surprised to find himself on the podium. “I didn’t expect a medal. I was expecting maybe top five, top four, but a medal feels great,” he commented.
The Canadian clinched his place on the podium with his last two dives. The first of them, a 3.5-degree-difficulty reverse three-and-a-half somersault, took him into fourth, with the second, a reverse one-and-a-half somersault with three-and-a-half twists, easing him into the top three.
“I saved those for my last two dives, the high difficulty, and they were the dives I was most stressed about,” he explained.
Two out of two for Yang Hao
Yang then wrapped up his brilliant contribution to Nanjing 2014 by winning the men's 10m platform gold medal, matching the achievement of his female compatriot Wu Shengping.
The gulf in class between the Chinese diver and his rivals was reflected in a winning margin of 134.20 points.
“Yang is a great diver,” said silver-medallist Philippe Gagne. “All his dives are very, very good, all the time. I'm really impressed by his consistency.”
Yang’s penultimate effort – an armstand back triple somersault – was his most difficult of all and brought him three 10s, three 9.5s and a 9 in a stunning total of 101.50 points.
“Of course I felt some pressure from seeing him dive,” Gagne said, in reference to the Chinese star, the only man to break the 100-point barrier in the final. “On all his dives he usually came up with an average of 9.5 points. I was trying to maybe get those marks to get closer to him but it was kind of hard.”
Greeting victory with a minimum of words, Yang insisted he felt no pressure and revealed the secret of his success: “My mentality? Not to think too much,” he said.
With Yang in a class of his own, Gagne’s only goal was to improve on the bronze he won in the 3m springboard competition, an objective he duly reached when 3m silver-medallist Rodrigo Diego Lopez made a mistake on his fourth dive.
“Today I was expecting just a bronze, like I did from the 3m [event],” Gagne said. “Getting a silver is more than I expected so I'm very proud of myself. My preparations didn't go too well and I didn't expect to get two medals here.”
He added: “The key today was to stay concentrated. Before the Games, I used to think about my harder dives when I was doing another dive, but now I just go one dive at a time and try not to think about the other dives. I also tried to think what can go right about a dive and not what can go wrong.”