Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic 2008: "New-born calves" carry on China's gold spree

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese diving team manager Zhou Jihong has never doubted her teen duo's capability of securing an Olympic gold medal, as she always said "new-born calves never fear tigers".

Lin Yue and Huo Liang, 17 and 19 respectively, were crowned at the men's 10m platform synchronized to continue China's gold spree on home soil.

The teenager pair opened with a near perfect forward dive in pike position to signal who was boss from the outset.

Lin and Huo thrilled home fans by picking up seven 10 scores in their second inward dive in pike position, taking a big lead of almost 10 points over their closest rivals after first two dives.

No one got so much height off the board, and kept their spins so tight to create such a small splash when entering the water.

Former Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi and Chinese Sports Minister Liu Peng were among the thousands of spectators to witness the clean victory of the overwhelming favorites, on their first Olympic trip.

"They did a very good job, and had stable performance throughout the competition," said Liu, adding the achievements of the Chinese Dream Team could not be reached by efforts within one or two days.

Despite a less than spectacular sixth and final dive for which the pair placed just fifth, Lin and Huo concluded their performance with 468.18 points, beating German pair Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein at 450.42.

"I performed to my normal level," said Lin, bronze medalist of the individual platform in 2007 Melbourne Worlds. "I think my form is getting better and better, and I'm confident with the latter competition." Lin will also compete in the 10m platform at Water Cube.

The Chinese teenagers were almost unbeatable in the World Series in 2007, and they took the gold in the "Good Luck Beijing" World Cup in February this year.

"I am satisfied with our performance," said Huo. "It's our first Olympics, and I can't say I'm not nervous. But my coach told me just to be relaxed and do each dive well."

"We just try to perform our best in each dive, and focus only on next movement as we finished the previous one," said Huo.

The German duo trailed Russian Gelb Galperin and Dmitriy Dobroskok in the first five dives, but quickly took over them in the final dive, with a backward two-and-a-half somersault two-and-a-half twist at a highest 96.90 points, standing the second at 450.42.

The Russian pair, silver medalists in 2007 Melbourne Worlds, were left lamenting their big mistake in the fifth round, which dropped them with bronze at 445.26.

"I made a mistake in my fifth dive," Dobroskok acknowledged. "But the last dive is OK."

"We are quite familiar with the Chinese duo," said Galperin. "They performed well today."

The Chinese teenagers won admirations from most of their rivals. The 19-year-old U.S. rookie Thomas Finchum, placing fourth of the competition, said "the Chinese were really strong today".

"They were pretty much on top," said Finchum, silver medalist of the 2006 World Cup, also voicing his expectation of another contest with Chinese rivals in individual event.

The success of Lin and Huo paved the Chinese Dream Team's path towards a clean-sweep victory at the Beijing Olympics.

China have won 20 Olympic titles out of 32 in the last 20 years since Zhou Jihong gained the nation's first in the women's platform at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Olympic golden pair Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia pocketed gold in the women's synchronized 3m springboard in the diving on day one, giving China its best ever start in the Olympics.

click here: Feature: "New-born calves" carry on China's gold spree Xinhua, China


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