Da­ley de­nies China with fi­nal flour­ish Bri­ton bet­ters Olympic champ Chen with stun­ning last ef­fort

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BU­DAPEST, Hun­gary — The Chi­nese divers were mar­velous. Tom Da­ley was even bet­ter.

Ban­ish­ing the mem­ory of his Rio dis­ap­point­ment, Bri­tish diver Da­ley cap­tured his first in­di­vid­ual medal at a world cham­pi­onships since 2009 with a thrilling vic­tory in the 10-me­ter plat­form over Olympic cham­pion Chen Aisen on Satur­day.

Chen, div­ing just ahead of Da­ley, put the pres­sure on in the fi­nal round with a bril­liant re­verse 2½ som­er­saults with 2½ twists, barely mak­ing a rip­ple as he sliced through the wa­ter to re­ceive four per­fect 10s from the judges and noth­ing lower than a 9.5.

But Da­ley, fac­ing away from the pool, launched him­self off the tower for an equally daz­zling back 3½ som­er­sault pike. He re­leased his legs, spot­ted the wa­ter and ma­neu­vered his body into a per­pen­dic­u­lar po­si­tion for scores that matched Chen, in­clud­ing four 10s.

“See­ing Chen do his dive — I saw him in the wa­ter and thought, ‘ Oh yeah, so that’s how you want to play. I’m here to play too,’ ” Da­ley said.

The win­ner led af­ter all six rounds and fin­ished with 590.95 points. Chen was next at 585.25, while his team­mate Yang Jian set­tled for the bronze at 565.15.

Da­ley was one of the plat­form fa­vorites at the Rio Olympics and led af­ter the pre­lim­i­nar­ies.

How­ever, he stun­ningly failed to ad­vance to the fi­nal when he fin­ished last out of the 18 divers in the semi­fi­nals, with a score that was nearly 170 points worse than the pre­lims.

For good mea­sure, Da­ley also cap­tured a sil­ver in the mixed 3m syn­chro­nized on the fi­nal day of div­ing.

“Con­sid­er­ing ev­ery­thing that hap­pened in Rio last year, not mak­ing the fi­nal, to come back now and win a sil-

Con­sid­er­ing ev­ery­thing that hap­pened in Rio last year, not mak­ing the fi­nal, to come back now and win a sil­ver and a gold all in one day is just, you know, I can’t quite be­lieve it.” Tom Da­ley

ver and a gold all in one day is just, you know, I can’t quite be­lieve it,” he said.

Chen threw down a towel in dis­gust when he re­al­ized Da­ley had won.

“When I saw my points af­ter my last dive, I thought, ‘I did it, I’ve got first place, I’m the world cham­pion,’ ” Chen said.

“And then when Tom got ex­actly the same points as me, I thought, ‘Well, it’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing, but we all did our best.’ What I have to do now is im­prove my­self even more and maybe get first next time.”

China did earn two more golds on Satur­day, in­clud­ing its eighth div­ing ti­tle.

Li Zheng and Wang Han fin­ished first in the mixed 3m syn­chro with 323.70 points. Da­ley teamed with Grace Reid to take the run­ner-up spot (308.04), while the bronze went to Jen­nifer Abel and Fran­cois Im­beau-Du­lac of Canada (297.72).

China again dom­i­nated the div­ing com­pe­ti­tion, fin­ish­ing with 15 medals in to­tal — three times as many as run­ner-up Rus­sia — but came up short of its 10 golds in Kazan two years ago.

The Chi­nese also took a syn­chro­nized-swim­ming gold in the women’s team free. Ukraine set­tled for sil­ver and Ja­pan claimed bronze.

Rus­sia, which has won six syn­chro-swim­ming golds at the cham­pi­onships, did not en­ter a team.

But the Rus­sians took the gold in the fi­nal syn­chro com­pe­ti­tion — its seventh in the Hun­gar­ian cap­i­tal — when Alek­sandr Malt­sev and Mikhaela Kalan­cha won the mixed-duet free rou­tine, a non-Olympic event.

Italy’s Gior­gio Min­isini and Mar­i­an­gela Per­ru­pato took sil­ver ahead of Bill May and Kanako Ki­tao Spendlove, who claimed their se­cond bronze for the United States.

The sport known for its hair gel, glit­ter­ing uni­forms and

Young squad ‘has room for im­prove­ment’

over-the-top pageantry will have a new moniker go­ing for­ward af­ter world gov­ern­ing body FINA voted to change its name to artis­tic swim­ming.

The div­ing com­pe­ti­tion of the 17th FINA World Cham­pi­onships con­cluded with Tom Da­ley’s sen­sa­tional win in the men’s 10m plat­form on Satur­day as pow­er­house China bagged eight out of the 13 gold medals on of­fer.

The 2009 world cham­pion Da­ley led the fi­nal since the first round, but met a strong chal­lenge from China’s Olympic cham­pion Chen Aisen.

How­ever, Da­ley, the golden boy of Bri­tish div­ing and some­thing of a celebrity in his home­land, kept ag­gres­sive and calm,

STE­FAN WERMUTH / REUTERS

Tom Da­ley of Bri­tain is all smiles af­ter win­ning the men’s 10m plat­form ti­tle at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary on Satur­day.

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