China is golden again, wins 5th diving gold of Rio Olympics
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) China is golden again, winning its fifth diving title of the Rio Olympics.
Cao Yuan led throughout to win men's 3-meter springboard with 547.60 points on Thursday. He climbed out of the water after his last dive and pumped both fists in celebration.
Jack Laugher of Britain earned silver with 523.85 for his country's first medal in the event and his second in Rio de Janeiro. He and Chris Mears won synchronized 3-meter to give Britain its first gold in diving, spoiling China's bid to sweep all eight golds in Brazil.
Patrick Hausding of Germany rallied from 10th after the semifinals to take bronze at 498.50.
The water in the diving pool was back to its usual blue color a week after turning a murky green in one of the biggest embarrassments of the games for local organizers.
With four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis looking on, Cao led all six rounds in the final. The 21-year-old Chinese finished off his performance by scoring 96.90 on his last dive, a forward 4+ somersault tuck.
''He's incredible,'' American Kristian Ipsen said. ''He's so athletic, just really, really quick. He's fun to watch.''
In the fifth round, Laugher performed the same dive that Cao saved for last and received the same 96.90 total.
But it was Hausding who did the difficult dive the best of anyone. He earned 98.80, the highest score of anyone in the 12-man final.
''Why am I not first?'' Hausding said, laughing. ''But I'm totally fine with third place.''
The 27-year-old German overcame knee and shoulder injuries to make it to Rio. He had surgery on his knee and is taking painkillers for his shoulder.
''I've had a rough season with less training. I started very badly into this competition,'' Hausding said. ''But I kept myself mentally strong. Didn't watch the scores. Just did my thing. It was the right decision in the end.''
Cao added gold to the bronze he won earlier in synchro 3-meter. His teammate, He Chao, didn't make it out of the preliminaries on Monday, when strong winds and cold wreaked havoc on the competition. World champion He balked on his second and third dives and scored just 27.75 on his third attempt - the lowest score given to a Chinese diver so far in Rio.
''Competing in the finals by myself added a lot of pressure,'' Cao said through a translator. ''I was able to let go and really focus on putting on my performance and putting up a show.''
Defending Olympic champion Ilya Zakharov of Russia failed to advance out of the semifinals. He hit his feet on the board on his first dive in the prelims and then he barely topped 50 points in the next two rounds.
Laugher had his own problems, barely grabbing the last spot for the final earlier in the day.
''It's actually my personal worst score since London, where I actually failed a dive,'' he said, laughing. ''For me, it was a bit of a shocker, literally 60 points less than what I've scored in ages. I realized if I just did a good dive to finish, I might make the final. I had luck on my side today.''
Ipsen finished fifth and teammate Mike Hixon was 10th.
The semifinals were held in sunny and hot conditions; the nighttime finals were in cooler weather.
''I actually knew going into it that it was going to be an interesting Olympics, it was going to be different than some of the others just because it's an outdoor facility,'' Ipsen said. ''There are a lot more variables that you have to deal with compared to an Olympics that's indoors.''