As China's divers make their final preparations for the upcoming
World Championships, they know the pressure is on to achieve a gold
After dominating the Doha Asian Games in December, a young
14-member squad led by "diving queen" Guo Jingjing will aim to
repeat the success in Melbourne, Australia.
Women's 10m synchronized platform Olympic champion Lao Lishi has
lost her place to teenagers Jia Tong and Chen Ruolin, while in the
men's team Athens Olympic men's 10m synchronized platform gold
medalist Yang Jinghui, 10m platform winner Hu Jia and 3m
springboard star Peng Bo are absent through injury.
"We did not include some veteran divers because we want to give
a chance to the youngsters. We are eager to see them gain more
experience and improve their skills," team manager Zhou Jihong told
But Zhou dismissed speculation that the team heading to
Melbourne has already been pencilled in for the 2008 Beijing
"I do not think the list will have any effect on our selection
of athletes to compete at the 2008 Beijing Games. The Olympic
selection process just began this year. There is still time for
other divers to prove themselves. Young or old, everyone has a fair
Chinese divers must prove themselves in five Olympic qualifying
competitions. As well as the Worlds, they have to win as many
points as possible at two national championships (2007 and 2008),
one stage of the FINA Grand Prix, and next year's World Cup.
Zhou provided the latest news on some of the injury-hit
"Yang has not resumed training since sustaining a shoulder
injury in 2005. Hu has just started training after last year's
surgery on his eyes so he still needs time to find his form. Peng
is still struggling to recover from foot and knee injuries.
"But all of them have a chance of competing in 2008," Zhou
One of the most encouraging developments from the team's
month-long training camp in Jinan, Shandong Province, was the
resumption of the pairing of Guo and Athens Olympic gold medal
winning partner Wu Minxia on the springboard.
After Athens, Guo partnered Li Ting and they won the last world
championships in Montreal in a bid to give the latter more
experience, but management has decided to enter Li in 1m
springboard in Melbourne.
It has not been decided who Guo will partner in 2008, though the
result in Melbourne will likely have an impact.
On the women's platform, a trio of teenagers will shoulder the
nation's expectations. None older than 16, Chen Ruolin, Jia Tong
and Wang Xin have already proven their talent in international
competition, and the team will be hoping they can cope with the
pressure of the Worlds.
The top prospect in the men's team is 20-year-old He Chong.
Known for attempting the most difficult dives, He won two Grand
Prix meets last year and two golds at the Doha Asian Games.
In the men's platform, Lin Yue, Zhou Luxin and Huo Liang have
matured rapidly in recent years and will take the place of
out-of-favor icon Tian Liang and Hu Jia.
At the last world championships, Hu collected gold in the men's
10m platform, but China lost the 10m synchronized platform to a
The FINA World Championships run from March 17 to April 1st.
(China Daily March 8, 2007)