Brits upset Chinese to win synchro 3-meter Olympic gold
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 11, 2016 09:45 AM
Britain's Jack Laugher, left, and Chris Mears pose with their gold medals after the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — There won't be a golden sweep in the green Olympic diving pool.
Britain upset China to win the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard Wednesday, with Jack Laugher and Chris Mears totaling 454.32 points for their country's first Olympic diving gold in history.
"When the scores came up and it obviously said that we had won I was still like, 'No, someone is playing a horrible prank on me,'" Mears said. "It was crazy, absolutely crazy, but I'm absolutely buzzing."
American duo Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon took silver with 450.21. China's Cao Yuan and Qin Kai settled for bronze with 443.70, ending their country's bid to sweep the eight diving medals at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The Chinese had won the first three synchro events.
On a dreary, windy day at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, a steady drizzle fell throughout the six-round final. The pool's water was green for the second straight day, with games officials struggling to correct what they say is decreased alkalinity that's causing the change from clear blue to murky green.
"Being from the U.K., we're very much used to rain, wind and all that kind of stuff," Laugher said.
Qin was trying to win a third straight 3-meter synchro gold medal with his third different partner. But the 30-year-old Chinese — oldest in the contest and owner of five Olympic medals — faltered in the third round, dropping his team to second behind the British.
"I am the reason I did not do well," Qin said through a translator. "I wasn't strong enough in my mindset. I didn't really focus enough."
China fell to third in the next round, but moved up to second after its fifth dive. Cao and Qin earned scores ranging from 8.5 to 9.0, leaving them within 2.64 points of Britain heading into the last round. Laugher and Mears nailed the toughest dive any team attempted in the final, scoring 86.58 points in the fifth round.
The Brits, Americans and Chinese all attempted the same dive to close the contest.
Dorman and Hixon went first, scoring 98.04 to take over first, with the British and Chinese still to come. The Americans endured a five-minute wait while Mexico's duo, who competed in front of them, sought a do-over.
"Leading into the last dive, having the Mexicans try to re-dive was beneficial," Dorman said. "Having them distract us and me wondering what was going on took a lot off my mind."
Jahir Ocampo and Rommel Pacheco complained to officials after a temporary light on scaffolding above the pool suddenly turned on while they were starting their dive.
At first, it appeared the Mexicans would be allowed to go again, and they climbed back on the boards. Hixon had already started up the stairs, thinking it was his turn before going back down to wait.
Ocampo and Pacheco stood on the boards waiting for the judges to give the go signal. It never came. They weren't allowed another attempt. It wouldn't have affected the medal finish, but might have moved the Mexicans up to fourth instead of fifth among the eight teams.
"We were going to do it again, but when we were up there waiting for the whistle to jump, they announced our scores and we had to come down again to protest," Pacheco said.
He said he thought Mexico would protest to FINA, the sport's world governing body.
"They might admit that they were wrong, but it won't change anything," Pacheco said.
After Hixon celebrated his team's execution by punching the water, the Brits grabbed the top spot back, although at 91.20, they didn't score as high as the Americans.
"GB did an unbelievable last dive as well," Hixon said. "We sort of made them earn it, but they absolutely did."
On China's last dive, Qin struggled again, failing to enter the water straight on a forward 4½ somersaults dive carrying a 3.8 degree of difficulty that scored 83.22.
"It's a lot of pressure and yes, we were a little bit nervous," Cao said.
China failed to win gold in the event for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games.
Associated Press Writer Carlos Rodriguez contributed to this report.