China divers win again

Updated: 2016-02-29 04:36

By JI YE in Rio de Janeiro(China Daily Latin America)

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China divers win again

China's silver medalist Chen Aisen (left) and gold medalist Qiu Bo (center) and US bronze medalist David Dinsmore pose during the awards ceremony for the men's 10-meter platform finals of the 2016 FINA Diving World Cup at Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb 24. Photo by Rahel Patrasso

China reaffirmed its dominance in the pool — or rather the air — as the FINA Diving World Cup wrapped up on Feb 24.

The six-day competition at the newly renovated Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre in Barra Olympic Park, featured more than 200 of the world’s finest divers as the final 88 places in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics Games were decided.

China has dominated diving in recent years, taking six of the available eight golds at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and silver in two other contests. They continued their winning ways at the test event, taking six golds and four silvers.

They only failed to reach the podium in the men’s individual 3-meter springboard, the event that produced one of the headline stories of the competition — the qualification of Yona Knight-Wisdom, who said he was shocked to win silver and become the first male Jamaican diver to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The best dive of the event went to China’s Ren Qian, who scored a perfect 10 on her way to gold in the women’s individual 10-meter platform on Feb 21, a day after turning 15. The teen remained modest and completely professional afterwards, saying: “I only did my best and what I do in training.”

The Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, which hosted 2007 Pan-American Games, was refurbished by the Rio 2016 organizers for the Olympics diving, synchronized swimming and water polo competitions.

However it remains as an outdoor venue, which provides divers numerous challenges, as the weather can change dramatically from day to day during Rio's summer.

"The weather gave us lots of challenges,” Chinese diving team manager Zhou Jihong told China Daily. “The first four competition days went from temperatures in the upper thirties to dazzling sunshine to thunderstorms."

"This is an unusual experience for us. But after this test event, we are more adapted to this venue. We believe it will help us prepare for the Olympics," Zhou added.

The Diving World Cup was a critical event for Rio organizers, whose staff from 36 Rio 2016 departments was assisted by 462 volunteers as all operations related to the competition — from services for athletes and officials to security and accommodations — were tested to an Olympics level.

It is also the first test event to include the National Force and National Penitentiary Department — a total of 300 agents from the two organizations, as well as officers from the federal, civil and military police, fire officers and traffic agents.

FINA, aquatic sports’ world governing body, was happy with the results.

"I would give it a mark of 8.5, because it’s very difficult to get a 10 in diving," said FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu. "There are a few small things still to be done, such as a bit of painting, before the venue stages the Olympic Games."

"The organizing committee did a fantastic job and the divers are happy. And if the divers are, then we are too," said Marculescu.

The power supply was one headache. The first two days' competitions suffered temporary power failure with broadcasts and the large screen breaking off and reporters from around the world having to work in a totally dark media center for a time.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Wu Minxia of China won the women's synchronized 3-meter springboard with her partner Shi Tingmao .

"In the first round of our finals, we didn't even know the results because the screen couldn’t show it," said Wu.

Rio organizers said the power supply issue will be corrected for the Olympic Games.

With tropical storms a common occurrence in summer months, the area around the venue and some parts of the venue itself suffered from temporary power cuts. For the Olympic Games, new generators will be installed, replacing those currently in use.

“New equipment will be installed, this situation is already resolved,” said Marculescu.