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OLYMPICS / ATHENS 2004

A 'Super Day' for China

The host of the 2008 Games leads the medal count after strong performances in the platform diving events.

August 15, 2004|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — The Tian Dynasty has dawned over the diving world.

Tian Liang, who won the 10-meter platform gold medal at the Sydney Games and finished second in the synchronized 10-meter platform event, capped an impressive day for Chinese athletes Saturday when he and Yang Jinghui won the men's 10-meter synchro platform gold medal at the Olympic Aquatic Center.

Their victory, which featured seven perfect 10 marks, followed an impressive performance by China's Wu Minxia and Guo Jingjing in winning the women's three-meter synchronized springboard event. The divers' success continued Chinese domination of the discipline and suggested that China might be a more formidable foe when it stages the 2008 Games than it already has been here. Chinese athletes also won two shooting golds, a silver in weightlifting and a bronze in judo Saturday. They're one medal ahead of the Australians and Americans in the unofficial count that everyone keeps.

"If it goes on like this, that would be great," Tian said through an interpreter. "It was a super day. We're very proud about all of this."

Chinese men have won the last two gold medals in three-meter springboard diving, two of three in 10-meter platform, the first three-meter springboard synchro diving gold medal at Sydney and Tian's silver with Hu Jia at Sydney. Chinese women have won the last four women's three-meter springboard titles, four of the last five 10-meter platform gold medals and silver by Guo and Fu Mingxia at Sydney in three-meter synchro springboard.

"China is very strong, not just in diving but in other sports," said Mark Ruiz of Orlando, Fla., who struggled through a disjointed performance that left him and partner Kyle Prandi last in the eight-team field.

Ruiz and Prandi never clicked and were disjointed on their second dive, earning marks as low as 4.5. Prandi will compete in the 10-meter platform event but Ruiz plans to retire.

"It's not the way I wanted to end my career," Ruiz said. "I really wanted a medal badly, and I unfortunately ended short of that."

Vera Ilyina and Yulia Pakhalina of Russia won the silver medal Saturday with 330.84 points, behind Wu and Guo's 336.90. Irina Lashko and Chantelle Newbery of Australia won the bronze with 309.30 points. Tian and Yang won the men's event with 383.88 points. Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor of Britain were second with 371.52 points, and Australian Robert Newbery -- husband of women's bronze medalist Chantelle -- teamed with Mathew Helm to finish third with 366.84 points.

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