Chinese divers performed exquisitely in the first two finals of the World Aquatics Diving World Cup in Montreal on Friday, claiming gold medals in both the men’s 10m synchro event and the women’s 3m synchro discipline. Ukraine and the USA took the silvers on Day 1. British and Canadian pairs each earned a bronze.
China’s World Cup diving dominance continued at the second stop of the World Aquatics tour on Friday, as both of China’s synchro pairs led the competition after every round, while other nations battled for the rest of the medals. If there was one surprise, however, it was that Americans Sarah BACON and Kassidy COOK scored the highest single-dive point total in the women’s 3m synchro event, topping even CHANG Yani and CHEN Yiwen’s score on a front 3½ pike (or 107B), the toughest dive in the women’s contest.
Ultimately, in men’s 10m synchro, China, Ukraine, and Great Britain went 1-2-3, while the women’s 3m synchro podium went China-USA-Canada in that order, with 26.82 points separating first from third. For details and reactions, read on.
Men's 10m Synchro
On the 10m tower, China’s LIAN Junjie and YANG Hao claimed victory with their most difficult dive – and the highest score of the day – in the men’s synchro final on Friday, outshining the (teenage) runners-up from Ukraine by 43.98 points.
LIAN, 22, and YANG, 25, were already leading after each of the first five rounds when they earned 93.24 points on a forward 4 ½ tuck (109C), with a 3.7 degree of difficulty to punctuate their second World Cup victory this year.
“The [456.72 total] score was very high, but we still did some small mistakes and we want to improve,” YANG, said, already looking ahead to the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, in July, and the World Cup Super Final in Berlin in August.
Ukraine’s Kirill BOLIUKH, 16, and Oleksii SEREDA, 17, withstood pressure from the other eight teams to cling firmly onto second place during the last five (of six) rounds.
"We didn't have any special strategy or state of mind coming to the event,” SEREDA admitted. “We were just hoping to be able to show what we can do. It's definitely a good start for the weekend. Let's see where it will lead.”
Last month, BOLIUKH and SEREDA placed third at the previous World Cup, in Xi’an China. They, too, will compete at the Super Final this summer.
Great Britain’s Matty LEE, 25, and Noah WILLIAMS, 22, took the bronze by saving their most difficult dive for last (also a 109C, like China). It turned out to be their best single-dive of the day (82.14 points) and knocked Mexico into fourth place by a slim 5.82 points.
“We both made slip-ups on a few different dives,” WILLIAMS admitted afterwards. “We tried to stay composed and knew anything could happen in the end.”
“It’s all about staying within the fight for the medals; we did that and got a bronze so I’m kinda happy,” said LEE, who won the 2020 Olympic gold medal in this event with Tom DALEY.
Australia, USA, Canada, Malaysia, and Brazil finished fifth through ninth, respectively.
Women's 3m Synchro
In the women’s 3m synchro event immediately afterwards, CHANG Yani and CHEN Yiwen of China continually inched up their lead in the first three (of five) rounds, but in round four, Americans Sarah BACON and 2016 Olympian Kassidy COOK executed a well-rewarded front 3½ pike to decrease China’s lead ever-so-slightly. The US pair scored 77.19 points for the maneuver – the highest score of the day in the women’s final.
But China’s CHANG and CHEN saved their best dive for last (a forward 2½ with a twist) to capture their second gold medal in two World Cup events. Their 329.43-point total was 14.34 points ahead of the Americans.
Asked at what point knew they had won the contest, CHEN, 23, said, “We don’t think about it a lot. We just focus on each dive and the competition itself. We don’t overthink about the results.”
In contrast, COOK, 27, quickly sensed that the US had clinched silver on last dive. “As soon as we both had a good hurdle, I was like, ‘Okay, we got this.’ You know when you hit a dive when you’re underwater. When we got out, we saw our coach’s face. He was super-excited so we knew that we did one of the better lists that we ever did internationally.”
Since the US team wasn’t at the first World Cup in China in April, BACON, 26, said, “coming away with a silver just boosts our confidence even more heading into the World Championships and third leg of the World Cup series.”
Mia VALLEE, 22, and Pamela WARE, 30, took third for Canada, squeaking by Australia’s Maddison KEENEY, 26, and Alysha KOLOI, 21, on the final dive by less than a point.
Great Britain, Germany, and Brazil finished fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively.
Day 2 of the Montreal World Cup will feature a whole new cast of characters in two additional finals, beginning with the Women’s 10m Synchro at 15:00 local time, followed by the Men’s 3m Synchro event. Check back here to see if China can go 4-for-4 in the gold medal tally.