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Twin Diving Medals for China at Swimming Worlds
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The diving events at the 12th China FINA World Championships in Melbourne went well for China as the nation's team collected the first two diving golds with Wang Feng and Qin Kai claiming the 3m synchronized springboard event and Jia Tong and Chen Ruolin topping standings in the women's 10m synchronized platform. Despite this medal haul, China will have a way to go to catch Russia who lead the medal table after Monday's events with five medals overall, including three golds.

Yesterday saw diving events begin at the biennial championships which opened on March 17 and new pair Wang Feng and Qin Kai started their partnership perfectly by winning the men's 3m synchronized springboard with a score of 458.76 points.

Despite lingering back in fourth position after the second round, the Chinese duo pulled off two superb dives to recover to second after the fourth round. The arena was then plunged into darkness during a 25-minute power cut, but Wang and Qin showed their composure at the restart with fabulous dives ranking 3.4 and then 3.5 in degree of difficulty to take the gold ahead of Canadians Alexandre Despatie and Arturo Miranda, and Germany's Tobias Schellenberg and Andreas Wels.

Wang Feng (R) and Qin Kai

"I hope this title could give a leg up to China," said an ebullient Qin Kai, who earned his first national team gold medal.

Pre-tournament favorites Russia saw a calamitous end to the night since after leading for three rounds, Aleksandr Dobroskok hesitated on the board in the fourth and the last rounds, allowing his partner to complete the routine alone, a fault punished with two zeros.

"Dobroskok put one foot too far back and couldn't properly take off from the board. Actually, they are pretty strong and went for some difficult moves," China's diving team leader Zhou Jihong commented.

The women's 10m synchronized platform saw a meld of youth and experience with 16-year-old Jia Tong, having already won the 2005 championships with Yuan Peilin, continuing her dominance of her event along with new teammate, 14-year-old Chen Ruolin, since their picture-perfect performance got them the gold 361.32 points, relegating of Australia's Melissa Wu and Briony Cole (324.00) into second and Germany's Annett Gamm and Nora Sunschinski (306.63) into third.

Jia Tong (L) and Chen Ruolin

In the pool, China's two top-ranked players, Wu Peng and female swimmer Qi Hui, will aim to emulate their diving peers' success. Their respective personal bests are 1 minute and 54.91 seconds in the men's 200m butterfly for Wu and 2 minutes and 22.99 seconds in the women's 200m breaststroke for Qi.

China's synchronized swimmers will also have the opportunity to recapture the success enjoyed at the Doha Asian Games when they took both the team and pair events. Japan's "god-mother" of synchronized swimming Masayo Imura, who took over the Chinese team last year, aims to hoist China into the top five teams in the world.

China has sent its biggest 179-member delegation, including 104 athletes, to Melbourne. The team, a mix of experience and innocence with 52 newcomers to the international scene, will compete the five disciplines: swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving, and synchronized swimming. An estimated 2,000 athletes from 175 countries will face off at the world's largest swimming meet which will run until April 1.

In the last world championships in Montreal, Canada, China bagged five golds from diving alone, coming third behind the US and Russia with 13 golds and 10 respectively.

(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, March 20, 2007)

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