RIO DE JANEIRO: China’s Chen Ruolin shrugged off an inexplicably green Rio diving pool to tie team-mate Wu Minxia’s twoday- old record of five career diving gold medals on Tuesday. China’s magnificent divers stayed unbeaten in the Olympics as Chen and Liu Huixia won the women’s 10m synchronised competition, taking China to three-for-three in its bid for an unprecedented eight-event sweep.
But much of the attention at the event was directed at the diving well’s bizarre transformation from light-blue the day before to a murky green, the latest embarrassing hiccup for the Rio Games. Venue spokesman Simon Langford said water tests found “no risk whatsoever to athletes’ health.” “We are investigating to determine what the cause of the situation was, but we are happy to report that the competition was successfully concluded,” he said.
It ended happily for the often under-appreciated Chen, 23, who is now firmly among the sport’s greats. On Sunday, the 30-year-old veteran Wu became the first to the five-gold milestone by taking the women’s 3m synchronised springboard with Shi Tingmao, passing legends like American Greg Louganis and former Chinese springboard diva Guo Jingjing. Chen paid tribute to the senior Wu as her “idol.” “I know she won five gold medals and that is very, very incredible. But to be honest I haven’t personally thought much about that,” Chen said. “All of us have tried very hard in our training and we have won our medals because of our dedication.
Chen and other divers said the green water was not a factor. “I don’t think this affected us in any way,” Chen said. The Chinese fought off a spirited challenge from Malaysian silver medallists Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong, while Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion replicated their London 2012 bronze. With the typical Chinese combination of grace and muscular precision, Chen and Liu held on to a slim early lead to finish at 354.00 points, just 9.44 points clear of the Malaysians.
It was a three-peat gold in the event for Chen, who won with different partners in Beijing and London. She also ruled the individual 10m platform in those Games, but is not entered for Rio. The cheerful and cheeky Chen was coy on whether she would retire or compete in future Games. “If I were to retire-if-I would cheer on those that come after me, but I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” she said. No team has swept all eight men’s and women’s golds since the number of medals doubled at Sydney 2000 with the addition of synchronised events.
China fell one gold shy in 2008, and two short in London. Malaysia’s finish marked the best-ever by women from that country. Pandelela won an individual bronze in 2012, the firstever medal by a Malaysian woman. On Wednesday, China’s Qin Kai goes for his third straight men’s synchronised 3m springboard title, pairing with Cao Yuan, who won London gold in the 10m synchro. Gold-medal holders He Zi and Shi Tingmao also will compete later in the Games for the women. The diving ends on the Games’ secondto- last day with its most anticipated contest, the men’s 10m individual platform. China’s reigning world champ Qiu Bo will look to avenge the upset loss in London to David Boudia of the United States that left him with silver.
Joining them will be Chen Aisen, who won gold Monday in the 10m men’s synchro, and British star Tom Daley. The 22-year-old Briton, who took bronze in Monday’s event with Daniel Goodfellow, was one of those who looked askance at the green water. “Ermmm… what happened?!” he tweeted, with a photo of the green pool. — AFP