Rio Olympics diving in review: China wins big, but doesn’t sweep

Rio Olympics diving in review

China Olympic Diving Fans Celebrating

The Olympic diving slate at the Rio Games is now complete with China taking gold in seven of the eight events. A quick look back at all the action…

MEDAL COUNT

China — 10 (7 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze)
Great Britain — 3 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
USA — 3 (2 silver, 1 bronze)
Italy — 2 (1 silver, 1 bronze)
Canada — 2 (2 bronze)
Mexico — 1 (silver)
Malaysia — 1 (silver)
Australia — 1 (bronze)
Germany — 1 (bronze)

WOMEN’S SYNCHRONIZED 3M SPRINGBOARD

Medalists
Gold — Wu Minxia & Shi Tingmao (China)
Silver — Tania Cagnotto & Francesca Dallapé (Italy)
Bronze — Maddison Keeney & Anabelle Smith (Australia)

China’s Wu Minxia took ownership of five Olympic records with her gold medal in the first diving event of the Rio Olympics — most diving gold medals by an individual in Olympic history, most Olympic diving medals won by a woman, oldest woman to win an Olympic diving gold medal, most Olympic Games with a diving medal and most gold medals in the same Olympic diving event.

The battle for bronze came down to the final dive. Australia’s Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith, who were in last after the first two rounds, stormed back to place third to secure the bronze medal with 299.19 points, narrowly edging Canada’s Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware by just 0.87 points.

Brazilian 35-year-old diving icon Juliana Veloso made her final Olympic appearance in front of the hometown crowd.

No Americans qualified for the event.

MEN’S SYNCHRONIZED 10M PLATFORM

Medalists
Gold — Chen Aisen & Lin Yue (China)
Silver — David Boudia & Steele Johnson (USA)
Bronze — Thomas Daley & Daniel Goodfellow (GBR)

Chen Aisen and Lin Yue set an Olympic record on their way to the gold, amassing 496.98 points. The pair received a number of 10s from the judges in both execution and synchronization for their fifth dive — a forward 4.5 somersault that earned them 106.56 points.

American’s David Boudia and Steele Johnson turned in a strong performance to score 457.11 points and secure the silver medal, even though they finished nearly 40 points behind China.

The silver is the highest the United States has ever placed in the event, marking the first career medal for 20-year-old American Johnson in his first event and third career medal for Boudia.

WOMEN’S SYNCHRONIZED 10M PLATFORM

Medalists
Gold — Chen Ruolin & Liu Huixia (China)
Silver — Pandelela Rinong Pamg & Cheong Jun Hoong (Malaysia)
Bronze — Meaghan Benfeito & Roseline Filion (Canada)

The day the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center diving well infamously turned green, China’s Chen Ruolin matched her countrywoman Wu Minxia in the history books with the most diving gold medals in Olympic history. 

Chen’s path to greatness is wildly impressive. The 23-year-old is five-for-five, winning gold in every Olympic event in which she has competed.

Americans Amy Cozad and Jessica Parratto, who were each competing in their first career Olympic event, finished in seventh place.

MEN’S SYNCHRONIZED 3M SPRINGBOARD

Medalists
Gold — Jack Laugher & Chris Mears (Great Britan)
Silver — Sam Dorman & Mike Hixon (USA)
Bronze — Cao Yuan & Qin Kai (China)

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears stuck a wrench in China’s plans for total domination in Olympic diving with an impressive program to win Great Britain’s first ever Olympic diving gold.

USA’s Michael Hixon and Sam Dorman put together a clean 450.21-point list to place second and earn the silver medal, finishing higher than the United States ever has in the men’s synchronized 3m springboard. (Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen won bronze in 2012.)

China’s Cao Yuan and Qin Kai, who led after the first two rounds and were the favorites going into the event, posted a total of 443.70 points for bronze.

WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL 3M SPRINGBOARD

Medalists
Gold — Shi Tingmao (China)
Silver — He Zi (China)
Bronze — Tania Cagnotto (Italy)

Shi Tingmao, the favorite entering the event, was clean from start to finish for 406.05 points and the gold medal. Countrywoman He Zi comfortably took silver with 387.90 points.

Behind the two Chinese divers, Canada’s Jennifer Abel and Italy’s Tania Canotto went back and forth for third with the Italian emerging at the end to secure the bronze medal.

USA’s Abby Johnston placed sixth in the preliminary on Friday and fifth in the semifinal on Saturday, but she did not perform as well in the final and finished in 12th place.

The women’s 3m final wasn’t the only highlight at the diving pool on Aug. 14. A pair of Chinese divers took the plunge as Qin Kai proposed to He Zi.

MEN’S INDIVIDUAL 3M SPRINGBOARD

Medalists
Gold — Cao Yuan (China)
Silver — Jack Laugher (Great Britain)
Bronze — Patrick Hausding (Germany)

It seemed like a wide open event after the reigning men’s 3m springboard World champion He Chao of China was eliminated in the prelims and the reigning Olympic champion Ilya Zakharov of Russia — after a brutal belly flop — was eliminated in the semifinal.

But 21-year-old Cao Yuan made sure it was anything but, leading from start to finish with a dominant program to take the gold.

Great Britain’s Jack Laugher took silver and Germany’s Patrick Hausding, after finishing fourth in his two previous Rio diving events, finally cracked the podium and won bronze.

For the first time since 2000, the United States placed two competitors in the top 10 of the men’s 3m as Kristian Ipsen — who performed the difficult “triple out” — placed fifth and Mike Hixon placed 10th.

WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL 10M PLATFORM

Medalists
Gold — Ren Qian (China)
Silver — Si Yajie (China)
Bronze — Meaghan Benfeito (Canada)

Ren Qian is just 15 years old, but with all the poise and confidence of a veteran in the women’s individual 10m platform event, comfortably winning gold ahead of countrywomen Si Yajie, 17, who took silver.

USA’s Jessica Parratto placed third in the prelim and second in the semifinal, but endured a number of miscalculated entries in the final and settled for a 10th-place finish in her Olympic debut.

MEN’S INDIVIDUAL 10M PLATFORM

Medalists
Gold — Chen Aisen (China)
Silver — German Sanchez (Mexico)
Bronze — David Boudia (USA)

China’s Qiu Bo was the favorite going in and he authored a perfect dive in the final, receiving 10s from all seven judges, but his inconsistencies left the door open.

And countryman Chen Aisen stormed right through for his second gold of the Rio Games.

USA’s David Boudia, the defending gold medalist from London, performed well. When the pool calmed, he sat in third place behind Chen and Mexico’s German Sanchez.

Steele Johnson, in his first career individual Olympic event, placed 18th and just barely qualified for the semifinal, where he wasn’t as luck and finished 13th — one spot off of qualifying for the final.

GREEN WATER

It was the storyline that no one expected in the Rio Olympics. Divers showed up to the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center on Tuesday, Aug. 9, and beheld a unique sight. The water in the diving well, a pristine azure blue the day before, turned a murky green.

The reason wasn’t forthcoming, but officials vowed to fix the problem overnight.

That didn’t happen and divers dubbed the pool “The Swamp.” 

Finally, four days after the color change on Saturday, Rio 2016 director of venue management Gustavo Nascimento and Rio 2016 Organizing Committee executive director Mario Andrada held a press conference to set the record straight. Apparently one of their contractors dumped 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide in the pool, which neutralized the chroline’s ability to keep the water clear.

After a day with no diving on Aug. 11, the water was back to a smoky blue color on Aug. 12. Two days later, the clear blue color began to return.

The water was never unsafe for the divers. In fact, many divers indicated that the green water actually made diving easier as it provided starker contrast for the divers to pick up their visual cues.

Still, officials were clear that the failure on their part was an embarrassing blemish on the Rio Games execution.

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