The Chinese divers Si Yajie/Tai Xiao and Wu Minxia/Shi Tingmao wrapped up two gold medals in the mixed synchro platform and women’s 3m springboard synchro, as Olympic champion Wu won her eighth world title from her eighth world trip on the second competition day of the FINA World Championships at the Kazan Aquatic Palace here on Saturday.
A total of 15 pairs competed in the mixed platform synchro which was introduced for the first time in the programme of the competition.
Si Yajie, defending champion in the women’s 10m platform, teamed with Tai Xiaohu, both 17-years-old, and led from the start to the end, winning in 350.88 points, beating Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito/Vincent Riendeau second in 309.66. Domonic Bedggood/Melisa Wu of Australia finished third in 308.22.
“We felt a little bit nervous because it was the first time we compete together in the mixed event. We started to pair about one month ago. We had our previous partners and never teamed up together. We did well today but not perfect,” Si said.
“These are my first world championships and my first mixed synchro event. Except heart beating, I felt nothing about the competition. The nerves were from my inner heart, so we suffer more from the pressure we put on ourselves than the one from the other rivals,” Tai said.
As a substitute to Liu Huixia, who got injured on her right shoulder one month before the worlds, Si gained the chance to compete in the mixed synchro and women’s 10m platform. Si revealed her goal is to retain her title on the platform. “I will try my best to defend the title, though it will be a hard battle since I am bigger and heavier than I was two years ago and there are many great divers from other countries,” Si said.
In her eighth presence in FINA’s major showcase since 2001, Wu celebrated her eighth title (she has also five silver medals) with Shi Tingmao to retain the title in the women’s 3m synchro springboard. China dominated the event for the eighth successive time at the world championships, a première in the history of the competition.
The reigning champion Wu/Shi finished in 351.30, beating Jennifer Abel/Pamela Ware of Canada in 319.47 while the Canadian pair moved a step forward than two years ago when they claimed bronze in Barcelona.
Samantha Mills and Ester Qin from Australia took the bronze. It was the third time Australian women won a medal in this event at the world championships following Sharleen Stratton/Bree Cole in 2007 and Stratton/Sharleen Smith in 2011.
Nadezhda Bazhina/Kristina Ilinyky of Russia missed the bronze when they made a big mistake in their last dive (5152B) with a poor 55.80-mark. The hosts placed third before the last combination but had to concede to the sixth place after that dive.
As the most successful female diver in history, Wu also collected six Olympic medals, including four golds, one silver and one bronze from 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
“We just tried to perform our normal training form, and did not think about the other things. Keep concentration and cool head is very important. We were competing against ourselves,” said the 29-year-old Wu. “Since I am getting older and slower in recovery, I have to train efficiently and try to avoid more injuries. Synchro springboard is the only event I compete in Kazan. It is always difficult to win the gold,” Wu added.
“We are happy we can go to Rio Olympic Games for our country. To beat China? That is a goal of every diver in the world because they are so excellent. But before that, the first thing you should do is to do your best and be the best you can be,” Jennifer said.
Qin Esther, a Chinese immigrant with her parents in Australia since 2007, said: “We made a lot of mistakes today but we were lucky to get the bronze.”
Swimming news courtesy of FINA.