The names may change. Not the results. China still rules the Olympic diving pool. The Chinese earned another gold medal -- the fifth of the Athens Games -- when Guo Jingjing easily won the women's 3-meter springboard Thursday night.
Teammate Wu Minxia made it a 1-2 finish for the world's diving superpower, taking the silver.
"I do not feel any pressure," Guo said matter-of-factly. "I finished my competition, and I got my gold medal."
The bronze went to Russia's Yulia Pakhalina, who attends the University of Houston.
It was the fifth straight win on springboard for the Chinese women, and the five gold medals match the country's total from the Sydney Games in 2000. China can surpass that standard in the final diving event of these games: men's 10-meter platform, which begins Friday.
"We just need to come up with something so we can beat the Chinese and stop this process," Pakhalina said. "We feel a little bit unsatisfied right now."
Rachelle Kunkel of West Valley City, Utah, the United States, finished ninth on the springboard, and the platform men aren't considered strong medal contenders. Kunkel admitted she was in awe of the Chinese and Russians.
"They're unbelievable," she said.
The United States managed only one medal at Sydney -- Laura Wilkinson's surprising gold in platform -- and it appears these games will be even worse for a country that once featured such stars as Greg Louganis, Pat McCormick and Sammy Lee.
China won its first springboard gold in 1988, when Gao Min captured the first of two straight titles. Fu Mingxia pulled off the double in Atlanta and Sydney before giving way to Guo, who was the silver medallist four years ago.
Australia's Irina Lashko led heading into the final, but faded badly after a strong first dive. The three-time Olympian, who competed for Russia at the 1992 and '96 games, dropped to seventh.
Guo never faltered, receiving a perfect mark of 10 on her second dive and another on her fourth attempt to build a commanding lead. No one else got so much height off the board, kept her spins so tight or created such a small splash when entering the water.
Guo had a bit of trouble on the entry of her final dive, receiving her lowest scores of the night. But she still finished with 633.15 points, beating out her teammate's total of 612.00. Pakhalina barely missed the silver, finishing third with 610.62.
"This is due to the hard work we have put in," Wu said. "The more you put in, the more you will get back."
Pakhalina added to a pair of synchronized Olympic medals. She won a gold in Sydney, a silver earlier in the Athens Games and now the bronze -- a complete set.
"I've got all of them now," she said.
Guo also won the women's three-meter synchronized springboard event with partner Wu Minxia at the Athens Olympics in Athens on August 14.
(China Daily August 27, 2004)