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He Chong leads Chinese 1-2 in men's springboard preliminary
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Chinese world champion He Chong launched his strike for his first Olympic gold as he led the men's 3m springboard preliminary on Monday.

A total of 29 divers competed for 18 seats in the semifinals on Tuesday. He, currently world No.1 in the event, led a Chinese 1-2 ahead of teammate Qin Kai, winner of the 2007 Melbourne World Championships.

He trailed Qin in the first four dives, but quickly took over in the fifth for which he scored 91.80 points. The Chinese top favorite, famed for commanding a set of difficult dives, posted the top qualifying score of 515.50 points.

"I showed my normal level today," said He after the preliminary. "I will take good rest tonight, and show my best tomorrow."

Qin, newly-crowned in synchro event, finished second at 502.95.

Yahel Castillo of Mexico, bronze winner of the 2008 World Cup, climbed to the third place after his fifth dive, a difficult reverse two-and-a-half somersaults and one-and-a-half twists, for which he topped 94.5 points.

As current world No. 2, the 21-year-old Castillo is the only diver who can perform 5355B,a reverse two-and-a-half somersaults and two-and-a-half twists in pike position, with a 3.4 degree of difficulty.

Five-time Olympian Russian Dmitry Sautin and Alexandre Despatie of Canada, also reserved their seats in the semifinals.

Despatie, runner-up of the Athens Games, slumped to the 21th place after a mistake in his third dive. But he managed to claw some of it back and stood at ninth.

The semifinals and final will be on Tuesday morning and evening in the National Aquatic Center, known as the Water Cube.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2008)

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