China continue Olympic diving gold rush, Britain fifth
Luo Yutong and Qin Kai ensured China remained on track for a clean sweep of Olympic titles at the halfway point of the London Games diving competition, as they won the men's synchronised 3m springboard gold.
Luo and Qin scored 477 points, with their series including a finely honed forward four and a half somersault, a difficult dive that earned them appreciative applause and 104.88 points, the highest mark awarded to any dive in the London pool so far.
The battle for the other medals was a close one, but after Mexico and Malaysia both fluffed a dive, Russian pair Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Zakharov took the silver with 459.63 points.
Choosing to focus on the synchronised events has paid off for the US team, with Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen winning the bronze, and the team's third diving medal of the Games, with 446.70 points.
Team GB posted an overall score of 432.60 to equal Britain's best-ever finish of fifth, and Chris Mears is on cloud nine with the result, just three years after being on the brink of death.
Mears and diving partner Nick Robinson-Baker were not expected to trouble the medal positions at the Olympic Aquatics Centre but matched Mark Shipman and Tony Ally’s result from Athens 2004.
And 19-year-old Mears is aware that his fate could have taken a different turn after a ruptured spleen at the Australian Youth Olympics in 2009 saw doctors give him a slim chance of survival.
He said: “It definitely means a lot to me to go from what I came from in 2009 to now competing in the Olympic Games and coming fifth in the world, it's an amazing feeling.
“That was pretty much rock-bottom, but this is where I am now, and I'm so happy.
“My parents are up there, they're crying, and I know it means a lot to them.”
A score of 87.78 in their final dive consolidated the Brits’ historic position behind Russia, USA, Ukraine and the Chinese and Mears is now taking the positives into the individual springboard final.
“It makes us so happy that we're one of the most successful teams in the men’s springboard, that's another thing to add to our excitement,” he added.
Mears’ partner Robinson-Baker, who finished seventh in Beijing with Ben Swain, revealed he will take a well-earned break before the pair start planning for Rio 2016.
And the 25-year-old World Series gold medallist was full of praise for his competitors in a strong field as his London 2012 campaign ended on a high.
He said: “That's what sportsmanship is all about, going in there, competing, and whatever happens on the day, the best man wins and the best team wins, so congratulations to everyone else.
“It isn't our personal best, I think we've gone 436, but 432 in a final at the Olympic Games was a phenomenal event for us, we're buzzing. I want to go up and do it again now.”
1. Luo Yutong/Qin Kai (China) 477.00 points
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov/Ilya Zakharov (Russia) 459.63
3. Troy Dumais/Kristian Ipsen (U.S.) 446.70
4. Illya Kvasha/Oleksiy Prygorov (Ukraine) 434.22
5. Chris Mears/Nicholas Robinson-Baker (Britain) 432.60
6. Alexandre Despatie/Reuben Ross (Canada) 421.83
7. Yahel Castillo/Julian Sanchez (Mexico) 415.14
8. Qiang Huang/Bryan Nickson Lomas (Malaysia) 405.09