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