'Supernatural' boy makes history at Shanghai worlds

Updated: 2011-07-22 21:44


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SHANGHAI - With an almost perfect execution of his trump card 5156B, a forward two and a half somersaults with three twists at pike position which earned a highest score in the final of 107.25, the 24-year-old He Chong, defending champion of the men's 3m springboard, retained his title at the Shanghai worlds on Friday.

'Supernatural' boy makes history at Shanghai worlds

He Chong competes in the men's 3m springboard final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai July 22, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

With the gold, He, nicknamed "Supernatural Boy" for his superior physical strength in the team, became the first Chinese diver to win the men's 3m springboard at two consecutive World Championships.

He, Beijing Olympic champion in the event, came from behind to claim the gold at 554.30 points, while Russia's Ilya Zakharov, runner-up of the synchronized 3m event with Evgeny Kuznetsov in Shanghai on Tuesday, took the silver at 508.95. Kuznetsov was the third at 493.55.

Qin Kai, winner of the event at 2007 Melbourne worlds, made a serious misake in his fifth dive which only scored 32.30 and managed only a fourth finish at 481.90.

"I was very nervous during the final, especially in my second dive after the Russian divers' good performances," said He, who gave Qin a warm hug after his last dive.

"Qin's mistake also affected me, but I think I controlled myself," said the winner. "Qin had taken the lead before his mistake, and I think it was a pity for him to lose the gold."

"I have taken part in many competitons this year and my form are not very stable recently. I felt tired during the final, as the preliminary and semifinal lasted about 10 hours yesterday, so I am satisfied with myself today," he added.

He Chong, who was hailed as "king of difficulty", trailed Qin in the first four rounds, but withstood pressure after Qin's mistake.

He was recruited to the national team at 12. However he was sent back to the provincial team because of an unsatisfactory performance in the intra-squad competition. It was a heavy blow but the teen diver never gave up. He trained even harder and finally made it back to the national team.

In his international debut in the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Canada, He easily bagged a synchro gold and an individual bronze.

But one year later, he suffered a waterloo defeat in the World Cup, in which he scored a zero in the simplest dive of six. He ruled the 2007 World Diving Series and defended his title in the 2008 World Cup.

After winning the gold at the Beijing Olympic Games, He experienced a hard time in his career. He was bothered by a knee injury which forced him to miss training for a long time.

And at the same time, his teammate and arch rival Qin rose his difficulty degree by exercising the dive 109C. With the hard dive, Qin managed to outclass He at the 2011 Diving World Series in Moscow and Beijing.

The loss in Moscow was He's first defeat in international competitions in three years.

He also tried to exercise the 109C, but he was not stable in the dive and had to give it up at the Shanghai worlds.

"I think the consistency is the most important," he said before the final. "So I will not use 109C in the final."

"Qin is very competitive with the 109C, but the hard dive may cause mistakes at the same time," He said.

And sadly he was right. Qin failed to win a medal after making a serious mistake in his fifth dive, the 109C.

"I didn't think too much (about the mistake) during the final, but I felt very sad," said Qin, who just won his consecutive third synchronized 3m title at Shanghai Tuesday. "Because I trained very hard and I had expected to win the gold."

Qin will still be an arch rival for He in the London Games.

"There is still a year away from the London Games, and I have a lot of things to improve. I will be well prepared for the Games," said Qin Kai.

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