Wu factor at the Natatorium
China’s Wu Shengping dazzled the crowds inside Nanjing’s Natatorium with a succession of dominant performances in the women’s diving. After easing her way to gold in both the 10m platform and the 3m springboard, she also took silver in the mixed team event.
Wu swoops to first gold
Chinese diving sensation Wu Shengping demonstrated her own unique way of handling the nerves as she sealed gold in the women’s 10m platform on 23 August.
“I didn’t feel any pressure while diving,” she said after clinching the title at the Nanjing Olympic Sport Centre Natatorium. “In fact, I’m a bit short-sighted, so even if I did try to look at the results, I wouldn’t have been able to see them clearly.”
In a dominant preliminary round performance, the Chinese youngster took the lead after her very first dive and never looked back. She scored a nine in two of her four dives and picked up a competition high of 86.40 with a 3.2 degree difficulty inward three-and-a-half somersault.
Then, having led comfortably throughout the first round, Wu maintained her tunnel vision in the final, executing her four dives with barely a splash to win the first diving gold medal of Nanjing 2014 with 526.20 points.
And the other competitors had no chance of challenging for top spot as the Chinese finished 75.55 points ahead of silver medallist Loh Zhiayi’s (MAS) total of 450.65. Later, the 17-year-old Malaysian admitted that the competition had found a worthy winner: “I’m really happy with the silver medal, China deserved to win the gold,” she said.
For her part, Wu said she was satisfied to have “performed really well”, although she admitted that she “did a bit better in the preliminaries and worse in the final”.
“This is my first medal at international level – it’s a belated birthday present,” she added, having turned 18 two days earlier.
The bronze medal, meanwhile, went to Alejandra Orozco Loza (MEX), a silver medallist in the women’s synchronised 10m platform event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the 17-year-old was clearly delighted with her performance after finishing with 430.25 points.
“I was expecting to win a medal because I trained very hard and prepared a lot to be here,” she said. “This result is very moving for me, this medal is the reward for all my daily training, all my efforts and all my sacrifices. I deserved it.”
Consistency the key as Wu wins again
Just two days after winning the women’s 10m platform competition, Wu Shengping was at it again as she sealed gold in the 3m springboard.
Having produced a balanced and virtually faultless performance in front of an ecstatic home-town crowd that included basketball star Yao Ming (CHN), the teenager eclipsed her closest rival by more than 30 points and posted a winning score of 492.05 points.
Going into the event, Wu said that she was not confident of victory: “For the 10m [competition], I had a better idea of how the results would go because I train more for that,” she explained. “I felt I did slightly worse in the springboard.”
“At senior level, especially for the springboard, I’m still far behind, including the difficulty of my dives,” she added.
Later, when asked about the secret to her success, Wu replied that winning “is just about consistency”.
Ukraine’s Ganna Krasnoshlyk, who started the final in seventh place after a poor performance in the preliminary round, moved into the bronze medal position with her first dive and stayed there until her third.
“My third jump wasn’t all that bad but it still unsettled me a bit,” she said.
However, the youngster then went on to climb into the silver medal position with a remarkable reverse two-and-a-half somersault on her fourth dive, leaving her speechless.
“It’s incredible, just brilliant,” Krasnoshlyk said. “I really didn't expect it, I'm still in shock.”
“I was very nervous before tonight’s final and especially on my first dive. I knew that if I could start in my usual way and do a good first dive, all the others would be OK.”
Yet despite starting as hoped, Ganna admitted that she had still doubted whether she could achieve a podium finish.
“Wu was unbeatable today, I didn't expect to win or even get the silver,” she explained, before adding that her unexpected success would push her to train even harder in the future. “Now my aim is to participate in the Olympics in Rio in 2016.”
Finally, Zhiayi Loh (MAS), the silver medallist in the 10m platform, claimed bronze with 446.70 points.
Orozco Loza halts Wu’s winning run
After taking bronze in the 10m platform event, Alejandra Orozco Loza added a gold medal to her collection on Wednesday 27 August in the mixed international team event.
Along with partner Daniel Jensen (NOR), she secured top spot on the podium thanks to a superb final dive, scoring 75.20 for a total of 379.50.
“That’s the best I've ever done in my life,’’ said Jensen, who did little to hide his delight at teaming up with Orozco Loza. “She's a really talented diver and it was so much fun. I've seen her at several competitions and known her for a year or so."
Elsewhere, the silver went to double gold medallist Wu Shengping and Mohab Elkordy (EGY) after a 64.35 on their final dive gave them a total of 374.90, the bronze medal was taken by Gracia Leydon Mahoney (USA) and Pylyp Tkachenko (UKR) with a score of 354.00 and Yang Hao (CHN) and Veronika Lindahl (SWE) finished in ninth place.
After Wu and Yang had taken the two individual medals available in the men's and women's competitions, Jensen was particularly pleased to have beaten the home favourites to gold.
"They're the best in diving,” he said. “It's really amazing to beat China. It's just indescribable."