China Wins 2 More Diving Golds In Another Dominant Performance On World Stage

Yani Chang and Yiwen Chen of China compete during the women's synchronized 3m springboard diving final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Yani Chang and Yiwen Chen of China compete during the women's synchronized 3m springboard diving final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — With its sights on the Paris Olympics, China is turning in another dominant diving performance on the world stage.

Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi finished 1-2 in the men's 3-meter Wednesday, while Chen Yiwen and Chang Yani captured their third straight gold medal in women’s synchronized springboard at the World Aquatics Championships.

China didn't enter the first two events of the meet, which comes just five months ahead of the Summer Games, but the country has been nearly unbeatable since then.

Other than an 11th-place showing in men's 1-meter springboard, a non-Olympic event in which China entered only one athlete, the diving superpower has taken gold in the other six disciplines. Most of them have been runaway victories.

Meanwhile, Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands completed a sweep of the women's individual open water races by taking gold in the 5-kilometer at Old Doha Port. In a thrilling finish, Logan Fontaine of France claimed the men's title in the non-Olympic event.

In the men's solo free of artistic swimming, Giorgio Minisini of Italy added a gold medal to the silver he captured in the solo technical event.

Xie led the preliminaries and semifinals at Hamad Aquatic Centre, but it was Wang who took control in the final. He ripped off one stellar dive after another on the way to a total score of 538.70, relegating Xie to the silver in 516.10.

“I told myself that I was winning the gold today and becoming a world champion once again,” Wang said.

It was the second gold of the championships for Wang, who teamed with Long Daoyi to capture the synchronized springboard title.

Wang and Xie have dominated the springboard in international competition and will head to Paris as huge favorites. Xie was world champion in 2017 and '19, and the Tokyo Olympic champion as well. But Wang has captured the last two world titles while Xie took an extended break.

“After Tokyo, I didn’t compete in any big events for two years, so I’m happy to be back," Xie said. "I see my colleague Wang both as a friend and as an opponent, and this pushes me to train harder.”

Osmar Olvera of Mexico grabbed his second medal of the championships, adding to his gold in 1-meter springboards with a bronze at 498.40. No one else was even close to the three medalists.

Chen and Chang totaled 323.43 points in the synchro event, leaving Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney of Australia with the silver at 300.45. Scarlett Mew Jensen and Yasmin Harper of Britain claimed bronze at 281.70, edging out the American duo of Krysta Palmer and Alison Gibson by a mere 2.4 points.

Chen and Chang also will be the heavy favorites in the 3-meter individual event on Friday.

The 24-year-old Chen is the two-time reigning world champion off the springboard, while the 22-year-old Chang claimed the silver last summer in Fukuoka, Japan, and the bronze two years ago in Budapest, Hungary.

Chang has now won four synchronized 3-meter world titles, also taking the 2017 championship while partnered with Shi Tingmao.

Overall, China has earned 13 straight golds in the event since finishing second when it debuted at the 1998 worlds in Perth, Australia.

Van Rouwendaal added to her victory in the 10K by touching first in 57 minutes, 33.90 seconds. The 30-year-old now has three world championships over her illustrious career, along with gold and silver medals at the Olympics.

The silver went to Chelsea Gubecka of Australia in 57:35.00, while Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil settled for bronze in 57:36.80. It was the 16th world medal for Cunha, who has reached the podium in eight straight championships going back to 2011.

“This race was very tough," Cunha said. "You have yellow and red cards, but you cannot see anything under the water.”

In the men's race, Fontaine won a furious sprint to the touch pad among five swimmers. He finished in 51:29.30, beating teammate Marc-Antoine Olivier by just 0.30 seconds in a 1-2 finish for France.

Fontaine was especially motivated after a fourth-place finish in the 10K.

“I wanted to make sure I do not make the same mistake again," he said. "I was very hungry for a medal.”

Domenico Acerenza of Italy earned the bronze in 51:30.00. Kristóf Rasovszky of Hungary and Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy just missed out on the podium.

After winning gold in the men's solo technical at the Aspire Dome, 16-year-old Yang Shuncheng of China led the preliminaries of solo free. But he botched a couple of required elements in the final, slumping to fourth to miss the podium altogether.

Minisini, who missed last summer's world championships because of a knee injury, took the gold with a score of 211.8647. The silver went to Dennis Gonzalez Boneu of Spain at 196.2750 and Gustavo Sánchez of Colombia grabbed his second bronze medal of the meet at 192.0812.

“In Fukuoka, I saw this event from my couch,” Minisini said. "This is the conclusion of one chapter and we can start all over again.”

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