NEWS

Emilie Heymans, Jennifer Abel Advance In Women's Olympic 3M Springboard Diving

08/03/2012 12:04 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT
AP
Canadian divers Jennifer Abel, left, and Emilie Heymans, right, train at the Aquatics Center at the Olympic Park in London, Friday, July 20, 2012. Opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics will be held Friday, July 27. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
LONDON - Wu Minxia has her sights on the diving record book.

She's another step closer.

With a nearly perfect final dive, Wu led the preliminaries of women's Olympic 3-metre springboard, another dominating performance by the country that captured the first four diving golds of the London Games. Her teammate, He Zi, was second.

The Chinese swept the synchronized events — including a victory by Wu and He on the springboard — and are looking to become the first team to take all eight golds since the program was expanded at Sydney in 2000. They won seven of eight at Beijing.

Chinese divers took the gold medal in the women's 3-metre springboard in each of the last six Olympics. Quebec's Sylvie Bernier was the last non-Chinese to have won in the women's three-metre at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Wu is chasing her own bit of history. Her third straight synchro gold left her one away from equaling the most career diving medals, the six won by Guo Jingjing. Wu also has a couple of individual medals, a 3-metre silver in 2004, followed by a bronze in the same event four years ago.

Now, she'd like to round out her collection with a gold.

"It was my usual performance," the 26-year-old Wu said. "I have done well."

Wu really nailed her last dive, a back 2 1/2 somersault in the pike position. The crowd gasped when she sliced through the water, barely causing a ripple. She received scores of 9.0 and 9.5, leaving her with a five-round total of 387.95 points.

He took the second spot in 363.85, while Italy's Tania Cagnotto was next in 349.80.

Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., qualified fourth with 344.15 points while Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que., was 337.20. Abel and Heymans won bronze in the women's three-metre synchro event earlier this week.

Heymans has no doubt about the Chinese superiority.

"The Chinese are ahead. Unless something happens and they make really big mistakes," said Heymans. "Both (Chinese divers) have shown really good stability while keeping very good diving quality."

Abel agrees with Heymans, but believes things could still change in the next few rounds.

"You never know what could happen," said Abel. "The primary goal won't be to try to beat anyone, but to strive to have a good stability from one dive to another."

In addition to Heymans and Abel, Italy's Cagnotto and Australia's Sharleen Stratton also have a shot at that third spot on the podium.

"We're a good gang to fight an uphill battle," said Abel.

Provided the Chinese divers keep their momentum, Heymans believes the fight for bronze may go down to the wire.

"I think it will still be quite open in relation to the third place, and it will be decided in the last two days," said Heymans, who was satisfied with the consistency she showed Friday.

Neither Abel nor Heymans seemed to be satisfied with their first bronze medal in the synchronized dive earlier in the games, Canada's first in London.

"We have worked hard for this medal. Emily and I are super happy but we have another goal which is the singles," said the 20-year-old Abel. "After that, we will take the time to savour it more."

Nothing seems to faze Wu, even after her teammate pulled slightly ahead in the third round. Wu finished with her two highest-scoring dives of the day, leaving little doubt she's the one to beat on springboard at these games. The semifinals will be held Saturday, followed by the final Sunday night.

"It's too early to see the result," Wu said. "All I want to do is my usual performance."

The home crowd also left happy.

Britain's Rebecca Gallantree and Hannah Starling both stayed alive, advancing to the semis in 16th and 17th respectively.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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