British diver offers muted praise for ‘beatable’ champions
British star Tom Daley insisted that China’s ruthlessly efficient divers are “beatable” as he looked ahead to an enticing new clash after winning a bronze medal in the 10m synchronized event.
Daley and his partner DanielGoodfellow settled for third in the tandem event, behind gold medalists Chen Aisen and Lin Yue and second-place David Boudia and Steele Johnson from the United States.
China is threatening to pull off a historic sweep of diving’s eight gold-medal events in Rio. Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao opened the competition on Sunday with a decisive women’s 3m synchronized springboard win.
Daley arrived in Rio challenging his Chinese adversaries. “Theyhave to beat me,” he said.
He had praise for China’s dominance on Monday but continued to stir the pot, saying he was eager to beat Chen and 2012 silver medalist Qiu Bo in the 10m individual.
Asked what makes China so strong, he said: “A 1.3 billion population helps.” But he went on to praise their work ethic.
“These guys are so strong, they’re so technically proficient in what they do. But going into an individual competition, as David will be able to tell you, they are beatable.”
He was referring to Boudia’s upset of Qiu in the thrilling platform final in London, one of only two golds won in 2012 by non-Chinese divers. Daley took the bronze. Daley, Boudia and the rest of the field will have their work cut out for them in stopping the Chinese juggernaut in the 10m individual event.
Chen and Lin were coasting toward a dominating performance on Monday until a wobbly fourth dive opened the door a crack.
Lin said: “We had a little bit of hesitation during our jump, so we did not handle it very well.”
But they slammed the door shut on the next dive that won 9.5s and 10s.
Daley, still just 22 despite being in the spotlight for nearly a decade, is seeking to finally deliver the gold medal that has eluded him since emerging as a star in his midteens.
His Olympic debut came in Beijing in 2008 when he was just 14. He finished seventh in the 10m individual platform, before his London bronze.
The two-day men’s 10m individual competition begins on Aug 19.