China's diving team is less concerned about continuing their
gold winning streak, which stretches back to the 1984 Games, than
sweeping all titles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
On Sunday, the nation's "dream team" wrapped up a perfect
rehearsal at the World Cup, held in Changshu, Jiangsu Province,
taking all 13 titles and performing this feat for the second time
in one of the biggest international competitions since 1993.
The sweep is set to consolidate China's leading position in the
sport as the country has won 106 golds at the World Cups, a record
achieved over 25 years.
"We did show an outstanding performance overall at this
tournament. The team has begun to prepare for the 2008 Beijing
Olympics and we will learn lessons from this competition and try to
be the best in 2008," said Zhou Jihong, manager of the national
China fielded a team made up mostly of teenagers, six of whom
have not yet competed internationally.
But their performances show signs of a bright future.
"Some young players put on amazing performances in their first
major competitions. It is a good chance to gain experience and
improve skills," Zhou said.
The biggest surprise comes from Jia Tong.
The 15-year-old girl from Sichuan Province ended China's
three-year title drought in the women's 10-metre platform in the
three major tournaments: the World Cup, the World Championships and
the Olympics. Jia also paired with Chen Ruolin to win the women's
10-meter synchronized platform.
"We are really, really happy to win because both of us are World
Cup debutantes," said Jia, who has been named as the hot title
contender for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Wu Minxia, a teenager who lives in the shadow of women's top
player Guo Jingjing, is also in the spotlight after her first-time
victory over Guo in the women's three-metre springboard in
Thanks to those emerging teens, China trounced traditional
powerhouse diving nations, including the United States, who placed
a distant second with three silver and two bronze medals, and
Russia, who only managed two silvers and a bronze.
With Olympic champion Tian Liang still off the national team for
engaging in too many commercial activities and Olympic gold
medallists Hua Jia, Peng Bo and Yang Jinghui sidelined because of
injuries, He Chong, Lin Yue, Huo Liang and Zhou Luxin - all
teenagers - collected four golds and a silver in the men's
Room to improve
Despite the encouraging results, Zhou voices concern.
"Actually, Despatie and Sautin didn't come. Besides, the
Olympics and the World Cup are two different matters," she
"The selection for the Olympics will start next year. I am
concerned about whether or not those young players will have stable
Describing the team as "new-born calves without fear of tigers,"
Zhou also asked young players to keep composure and make extra
efforts to improve.
"It doesn't mean victory at the Olympics. All matches have their
surprises. They need to be careful," she said.
"We also made mistakes during the competition. He Chong's
blunder in the three-metre springboard cost him a medal. Jia Tong's
victory in the 10-metre platform also cannot hide her mistakes in
"We need to polish our skills after the event and work more on
Zhou believed China did not have a clear advantage and said they
will try to pay more attention to quality and stability.
In the women's 10-metre platform, defending American Laura
Wilkinson displayed a set of dives whose difficulty degree reached
17.2 - 1.1 higher than those of champion Jia Tong and runner-up Lao
Lishi of China.
The 2000 Olympic title winner and 2005 world champion completed
the whole set in the semis to grab the highest score of 396.10
Teenager Lin Yue successfully completed his trademark dive - a
backward two-and-a-half somersault and two-and-a-half twist twice
in the men's 10-metre platform to collect 106.40 points, while
Russian Alexy Kravchenko also executed the dive well enough to earn
David Boudia from the United States was also impressive in the
men's 10-metre platform, using a set of dives reaching a difficulty
degree of 20.7 0.4 higher than Lin Yue's. The American defeated the
Chinese hopeful in the preliminary but failed to enter the final
because of some blunders in the semis.
(China Daily July 26, 2006)