China finishes 1-2 in women's Olympic platform diving

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) China has its next diving superstar.

Actually, two of them.

Fifteen-year-old Ren Qian captured another diving gold medal for China on Thursday, producing five nearly flawless efforts off the women's 10-meter platform to beat her 17-year-old teammate, Si Yajie.

Ren finished with 439.25 points, while Si settled for silver at 419.40 in a back-and-forth duel that wiped out any would-be contenders.

Early on, a pair of Canadians, Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, along with American Jessica Parratto managed to stay close to the mighty Chinese teenagers.

By the end, Benfeito was the only one anywhere close, grabbing the bronze at 389.20. Filion dropped to sixth and Parratto botched two straight dives, plummeting all the way to 10th.

As for the Chinese, they never wavered.

Seamlessly filling the void left by two-time Olympic champion Chen Ruolin, Ren and Si took turns seeing who could out-do the other. Their spins were quicker than anyone else's. Their twists and turns were graceful and elegant, yet showed stunning athleticism. And when they sliced through the water, they barely left a ripple.

Ren never received a mark lower than 8.5, and her final two dives produced three perfect 10s. Hardly looking her age, she was simply unflappable in her first appearance on the Olympic stage.

Si led the way in both the preliminaries and the semifinals, but she finally wobbled a bit in the fourth round. She was slightly off on her toughest dive - a back 3+ somersaults with a tuck - and wound up with scores ranging from 7.0 to 8.0.

That was all Ren needed to clinch the gold, the sixth in seven diving events for the Chinese at these games. If they can win the final event, the men's platform, it would match their best Olympic performance ever. They also won seven of eight events at Beijing in 2008.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

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