Teenage diver keeps national team on top

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Chinese diver Quan Hongchan (right) celebrates winning the women's 10-meter platform event at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday with teammate and runner-up Chen Yuxi. Quan, 14, scored a perfect score of 10 on three of her five dives. [XU CHANG/XINHUA]

Teenage diver Quan Hongchan set the women's 10-meter platform final alight on Thursday when she scored perfect 10s in three of her five dives to win the gold medal.

The 14-year-old, China's youngest athlete in Tokyo, finished ahead of 16-year-old teammate Chen Yuxi, who won silver, and bronze medalist Melissa Wu of Australia.

The baby-faced Quan, the latest prodigy of China's diving training system, barely made a ripple in the water during her final's performance and tallied 466.2 points to dominate the field.

Her composure impressed reporters during her interview after the event. "I was a little nervous, but not very, just a little bit," she said. "I don't feel different competing at the Olympics compared to the national championships. I just did my routines and tried to execute my dives the way my coach told me to."

Quan's three flawless dives went viral across China's sports community. Former men's Olympic champion gymnast Li Xiaopeng posted on Weibo that "I might make a bigger splash than her dives dropping a coin in a cup of water."

After a fruitless Wednesday with no gold medals, Team China regained its winning momentum on Thursday by claiming golds in diving and table tennis and making breakthroughs in track and field.

In a high-profile women's team final in table tennis, the Chinese trio of Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu dominated the Japanese squad of Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano and Mima Ito, 3-0, to secure China's third gold in the sport at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday evening.

The victory denied the chance of Japan taking a second table tennis title from China, following the host's victory in the mixed doubles last week.

"The hard work has paid off," Sun said after the final. "We prepared for the toughest situation; facing an ambitious host team. We prevailed with collective strength as a team."

The victory helped Team China maintain its lead on the medal table with 34 golds, 24 silvers and 16 bronzes, followed by the United States with 29 gold, 35 silver and 27 bronze medals. Japan is in third place with 22 gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze medals.

In the morning track and field session, Chinese triple jumper Zhu Yaming made his Olympic debut a memorable one after leaping to a personal best of 17.57 meters on his fifth attempt to win the silver medal. Portugal's Petro Pichardo took the gold with a jump of 17.98m, while Burkina Faso's Hugues Fabrice Zango won the bronze with 17.47m.

Zhu's silver medal was China's best finish in the event at an Olympics.

"The final was much more intense than anything I have ever experienced and above my expectations," said Zhu, a 27-year-old student from Beijing Sport University.

"I was overwhelmed and had begun to doubt myself," Zhu said of the fierce competition. "I regrouped going into the final few attempts and managed to rebuild my confidence one jump after another."

China's men's and women's teams both made the finals of the 4x100m relays after smooth baton changes in the qualifying rounds.

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