Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan extended their country's diving dominance Monday, winning the men's 10-meter synchronized platform for China's second gold medal on the boards at the London Olympics.
Cao and Zhang totalled 486.78 points in the six-dive final. That spoiled the gold-medal hopes of Britain's Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield, who were shut out after a major mistake.
"If you miss a dive in this kind of field then you're out," Daley said.
The 17-year-old Cao and 18-year-old Zhang are Olympic rookies. But they were unflappable while launching themselves off the 10-meter tower before a partisan crowd shouting "GB! GB!"
The teenagers led Mexico by 10.28 points after the fifth round, but came up big on their final dive, a back 2 1/2 somersault with 2 1/2 twists pike that earned 99.36 points.
Cao didn't think he and Zhang had won until after the Mexican divers had finished.
"They still had a chance because of their level of difficulty," he said.
German Sanchez and Ivan Garcia of Mexico had the highest degree of difficulty in the competition and it paid off with the silver. They scored 468.90 to earn Mexico's first Olympic medal in men's synchronized diving.
"We are still in awe about what just happened," Sanchez said.
Sanchez and Garcia got advice from former Olympic diving medallists Jesus Mena and Fernando Platas a day earlier.
"They told us that we needed to keep it cool out there because that's the only way to win a medal," Sanchez said. "We even modified the diving list at their request and it totally worked."
He and Garcia pulled off their trickiest dive — an inward 4 1/2 somersault tuck with a 4.1 degree of difficulty — for the highest score of 95.95 in the fourth round.
"We tried it so many times in the last few days and we were not doing it right, but it's a dive that we have been doing for so long that we did not want to take it out," Sanchez said. "Everybody said that it was foolish to have a dive with such a big degree of difficulty, but here's the result. Those critics made us better."
Nick McCrory and David Boudia of the U.S. took the bronze with 463.47.
"It's not real yet," Boudia said. "We were about ready to walk out and we were like, 'Oh, we just got third, we're bronze medallists .' I think it will sink in once you see your family, you celebrate, you're on the 'Today' show."
The Americans are 2-for-2 after Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant earned a silver in 3-meter synchro springboard Sunday, ending a 12-year medal drought.
"The floodgates have opened," said U.S. high performance director Steve Foley, who began emphasizing success in the synchro events after Beijing. "They did it the hard way. It was a a hell of a contest. It could have gone either way."
McCrory and Boudia were third after the first two rounds before slipping to third. They earned their highest score of 95.04 on their last dive, ripping through a back 2 1/2 somersault 2 1/2 twists pike.
"I watched the Olympics on TV and pointed at it and said, 'That's what I want to do,' and now I'm here," McCrory said. "I want the sport to grow. I just hope we inspired some people today."
Yuan and Zhang were tied with the Brits after the first round, and stayed close behind in the early going. The Chinese didn't have the same high degree of difficulty as the Mexicans, and the Brits and Americans also tossed in tougher dives than Yuan and Zhang.
But the Chinese were solid, earning four perfect 10.0s for synchronization in the round. Daley and Waterfield earned the only other 10.
Zhang planned to celebrate by going back to the athletes village and having "a big sleep."
The Brits were flying high with the lead through the first three rounds.
"We were on the highest scores that we've ever got so far after the third dive," Daley said. "We were doing really well and the crowd out there were just fantastic."
But they botched their fourth dive and dropped to fourth, where they eventually finished with 454.65. They were in position to give the host country its first gold of the games — and first in diving — but they couldn't recover from their error.
"It's the worst place to finish at the Olympics," Waterfield said. "I would have rather finished last because then at least you know you've missed every dive."
The crowd, so raucous before the competition and through the early rounds, gasped when Daley and Waterfield missed on a reverse 3 1/2 somersault tuck.
Both men were out of sync in opposite directions and resembled a V entering the water instead of being in vertical positions. Their mistake allowed the Chinese to regain the lead for good.
Daley kicked his feet too early and slightly underrotated while Waterfield kicked too high and overrotated.
"If you do that synchro marks are not going to be as good," Daley said.
Waterfield added, "Unfortunately that left us with too much to do in the last two rounds."
Daley and Waterfield each overcame tough times in the last couple of years.
Daley was just 14 when he finished eighth in platform synchro in Beijing. He put school on hold to prepare for these Olympics. His father died of brain cancer a year ago.
Waterfield, a 31-year-old married father of two kids, was going for his first diving gold in his fourth Olympics after injuries disrupted his training. He owns a silver in 10-meter synchro from the 2004 Athens Games.
"It's one of those things that you've always dreamed of, winning an Olympic medal," Daley said. "So it is tough to see other people going and standing on the podium where you wanted to be, but that's sport for you and that's going to give us more motivation and more drive towards the individual event."
Daley and Waterfield will compete individually on 10-meter later in the week.Suggest a correction