Tomoaki Tasaka, FINA Press Correspondent in Japan

Chinese supremacy remained unchallenged in the second day of the inaugural leg of the FINA/CNSG Diving World Series, taking place in Sagamihara (JPN), from March 1-3, 2019. 

In the women's 10m platform, the first final of the day, China's 14-year-old new star Zhang Jiaqi was a bit shaky in the first two dives, but performed quite strongly in the last three combinations. Throughout the final, her main rivals were Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito (very regular in the second place) and the other Chinese of the field, Ren Qian. For the crowd’s satisfaction, it was home hero Matsuri Arai who led after the first round – she would conclude in sixth, after not being so successful in the remaining of the final. 

The podium of the women's 10m platform - Photo credit: Hiroyuki Nakamura

Zhang won the gold medal in 393.30 and could beat her rival, replicating last year’s result in Fuji, with Benfeito getting the silver in 385.10. World Series champion in 2018, Ren Qian had to content with the bronze in 371.40.

“There were good rounds and bad rounds. Actually, I am very happy with this result. I think I'm very competitive, and my concentration and effort paid off today”, Zhang said.

In the final of men's 3m springboard, Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi (CHN), winners on Day 1 of the synchronised event, competed this time against each other. Jack Laugher from Great Britain joined the battle in a quite thrilling final.

Photo credit: Hiroyuki Nakamura

The turning point of the competition was the fourth dive for Laugher and the fifth one for Cao (in both cases a 5156B). Both divers aimed at the lead of the competition, but both made tiny mistakes that compromised their entry in the water.

In those circumstances, Xie who performed quite regularly and even scored a plus 100-point dive in the last round, earned gold in 548.80 points. 

"This result is good. But there were problems with the take-off in some dives. I am planning to train this aspect in order to fix it", Xie confessed.

The silver medal went to Cao, who totalled 529.40. Laugher was third in 469.25 points. 

“I'm a little disappointed because my first three dives were pretty good but not the last ones. Still, I am happy that I could medal here in Japan”, Laugher considered.

The men's 3m springboard podium - Photo credit: Hiroyuki Nakamura

The last event of the day was the mixed 10m platform synchro.

The technique of the Chinese team was outstanding. New duet Lian Junjie and Si Yajie displayed a very consistent synchronisation as if they were training together for a long time. After the third dive, it became evident that the gold could not escape them, and in the end they successfully concluded in 360.33 points. It was the seventh gold medal for China out of the seven finals contested so far. 

The silver medal went to Russia’s Nikita Shleikher and Iuliia Timoshinina in 334.59, while local stars Minami Itahashi and Kazuki Murakami delighted the crowd (comprising many children cheering the Japanese divers) with the bronze (325.50), after a tough fight with the pair from DPR Korea. 

Photo credit: Hiroyuki Nakamura