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China diving lineup takes shape as Olympic national qualifier ends in hot competition
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Although the final lineup of the Olympic Games has not been announced, several divers have almost secured the berths after consistent performance at a string of trials and international events.


The world and Olympic champion Guo Jingjing, who is the all-time eldest woman athlete in Chinese diving team, has just claimed the gold in the 3 meters springboard diving with five high-level dives in the national diving qualifier held in East China's Jinan on Wednesday.


The 27-year-old Chinese diving queen, who had taken part in three Olympics, is the heavy favorite in women's 3 meters springboard, in both individual and synchronized.


Another 3 meters springboard favorite Wu Minxia, unable to make it to the final on Wednesday due to a fatal mistake, is still hopeful to spearhead the dream team with Guo.


He Zi and Li Ting, silver and bronze medalists in Wednesday's contest, will probably be the replacements in the event.


Qin Kai and He Chong are capable of securing the men's 3 meters springboard for China, and Qin Kai/Wang Feng have taken the pole position in China's synchronized lineup.


Qin, winner of the 2006 World Cup and 2007 World Championships, finished third in the event on Wednesday, while He, winner of the Olympic trial in Yantai and Hefei, took the silver.


It may be difficult for Peng Bo, gold medalist in Athens Olympics, to feature in the lineup again, as he didn't play quite well due to injuries. Peng just finished fifth on Wednesday.


Lin Yue and Zhou Luxin lead off the men's 10 meters platform and Lin Yue/Huo Liang are specialists on men's synchronized. Lin and Zhou's good performance successfully filled in the gap after China's diving ace Tian Liang called a halt to his stellar career.


Lin and Zhou both performed quite well on Thursday that Lin won the gold while Zhou took the silver.


Huo Liang, winner of the men's 10 meters platform synchronized diving in Melbourne worlds with Lin, finished fifth. Huo/Lin also won the title of the event in Olympic diving trials in Foshan and Yantai.


Compared with them, Athens Olympic champion Hu Jia, who finished fourth here in Jinan, still need better performance and result to prove himself.


Chen Ruolin and Wang Xin will possibly take the places of both individual and synchronized in the women's 10 meters platform. Wang and Chen were the winner and runner-up of the event in Melbourne worlds, and they also took the synchronized diving gold.


Wang and Chen are quite hopeful to win back the women's 10 meters platform gold in Olympics, which was lost in the previous two Olympic Games.


Wang Hao of Tianjin, winner of the Olympic trials in Yantai in September 2007 and Jinan here on Thursday, is also a contender in the event.


The divers will play the World Cup in Beijing on February and the Olympic synchronized diving trial in Hefei on March. They still need to perform their best to make sure of the berths in the final lineup of the Olympics.


(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2008)

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