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Diving queen starts China's diving gold rush at Olympics
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The Chinese always says: well begun is half done.

Now their aim of making a gold sweep of the Olympic diving competition has a splendid start, as the "diving queen" Guo Jingjing claimed the gold of the women's three-meter springboard synchronized with her compatriot Wu Minxia in Beijing on Sunday, the opening day of the diving event.

With the "diving queen" Guo and diving veteran Wu, the first diving gold is like a cake for China. The Athens Olympics champion pair led all the way to retain their title in 343.50 points, beating their closet rivals Julia Pakhalina/Anastasia Pozdnyakova of Russia, who posted 323.61, by almost 20 points.

Ditte Kotzian and Heike Fischer of Germany took the bronze at 318.90.

"I feel so happy to win a gold at home," said Guo, winner of the 3m springboard in 2004 Athens Olympics. "But it's not easy to get the gold medal. We did a lot of preparations. We did not focus on the goal, but to do our best on every dive, so we can treat it normally and don't have too much pressure."

"The competition is not easy," Guo said. "There are many challenges from other competitors. They have good synchronization and high quality of dives."

Because of the high level of the Chinese duo's performances, it seems that they won quite easily.

"It's not as relaxed or as easy as you think," said the "diving queen". "Actually we trained very hard every day. We train from morning to night."

"We performed very well," said Wu, a three-time world champion of the 3m synchro with Guo, as she missed the 2005 Montreal worlds. "I clenched my fist after the competition."

With the first gold claimed, it seems the other seven are not far away.

In the women's 3m springboard, the 26-year-old Guo is no doubt an overwhelming favorite. The "diving queen" is the winner of both individual and synchronized events of the 3m springboard in four consecutive world championships, from 2001 Fukuoka worlds to 2007 Melbourne worlds.

"I don't want to think too much about it," Guo said. "I will just try and do my best."

The 22-year-Wu, who often followed Guo in the 3m springboard competition including 2004 Athens Olympics and 2007 Melbourne World Championships, will be a competitor for the Athens Olympic champion.

In the men's 3-meter springboard, Qin Kai, winner of the 2007 Melbourne worlds, and He Chong, gold medalist at the 2008 World Cup, are both hot favorites. And in the men's 3-meter synchro, Qin Kai has paired with veteran Wang Feng to pocket the gold in 2007 Melbourne worlds.

In the women's 10-meter platform, teenager Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin, winner and runner-up of the 2007 Melbourne worlds, are no wonder front runners in both individual and synchronized.

The men's 10-meter platform synchronized final will be held on Monday. Chinese duo Lin Yue and Huo Liang, winner of the event in 2007 Melbourne Worlds and 2008 World Cup, will hardly miss the gold.

If there is something for the host to worry about, it will be the men's 10-meter platform.

The high dive has been a problem for China since the retirement of Sydney Olympic gold medalist Tian Liang. Meanwhile, Hu Jia, the individual gold medalist in Athens, was kept out of the squad by injuries.

China lost the gold in the event at the 2007 Melbourne worlds as Russian Gleb Galperin beat the Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin and Lin Yue for the victory.

It was also the only gold China lost in the 2008 FINA Diving World Cup as Germany's Klein Sascha was crowned, who is in the start list of the 10-meter platform.

The threat to China may also come from Cuba's Jose Guerra, winner of the 2007 Pan American Games.

Thomas Daley of the Great Britain, who turned 14 in May, is also barging into China with momentum. He became the youngest person ever to win a Gold medal in the 10m Platform at the 2008 European Championships in March.

Zhou Lvxin and Lin Yue, runner-up and bronze medallist of the event respectively in 2007 Melbourne Worlds, are centered on great expectations.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2008)

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