Two things were evident as the 2008 Olympic men’s springboard diving competition came to an end – China would win its sixth gold medal of the Games, and the U.S. is in danger of being shut out of the medals for the second consecutive Olympics.
China’s He Chong was both consistent and good as he scored over 90 points on five out of his six dives. The only time he dropped below 90 was on his second dive, a back 2 ½ somersaults in pike. Even on that dive, his mastery of the springboard was evident, receiving six judges’ scores of 9.5.
If the 21-year-old had not competed his final dive, he would have still finished in sixth place. But he did compete in round six, and the result was the highest scoring dive of the contest at 100.70.
Finishing in second was Alex Despatie, the 2004 Olympic springboard silver medalist. The Canadian had been tabbed by the Chinese as their biggest threat to Olympic gold, and he proved that their fears were warranted despite a broken foot he sustained in April. Despatie scored 536.65 points and will add a second Olympic medal to go with his seven world championships.
Grabbing the final medal was 2007 World Champion Qin Kai, who added to China’s medal count with a bronze.
In what may have been the final competition for Dmitri Sautin, the Russian finished in fourth and was denied a ninth Olympic medal. Sautin, who owns more Olympic medals than any diver in history, came to the Games searching for the one medal in his impressive resume that was missing – springboard gold. At the age of 34, he showed that age is not necessarily a hindrance to success. He never scored less than 80 point on a dive, and with a final round dive that scored 99.75 points, he kept the pressure on both Despatie and Kai.
While the Chinese and Canadian divers celebrated, the U.S. was again left off the podium. Troy Dumais and Chris Colwill entered the competition with the firm belief that they could compete with the Chinese, but mistakes cost them any chance at a medal.
In his last Olympic competition, Dumais could not convince either the body or the mind to cooperate for six straight dives. He came to Beijing with a rededicated purpose and the goal of the one award that has eluded him in his long and successful career – an Olympic gold medal.
One of the most decorated divers in U.S. history with 25 national titles and three world championship medals, Dumais gave it one last shot and finished the competition with his third sixth place finish.
After four rounds, Dumais looked as if he was up to the challenge and was in the mix, until a reverse 3 ½ somersaults in tuck that over rotated, effectively ended all medal hopes for the California native.
Colwill, who qualified for finals in sixth, improved his diving as he moved easily from prelims to finals, but was done in by his reverse twisters – both of them. He added a new, and lightly tested dive to his list for the finals, a reverse 2 ½ somersaults with 2 ½ twists. The dive, which has the highest degree of difficulty of any dive performed in the contest at 3.9, can be characterized as high risk, high reward. For the first time Olympian, it ended up being a little bit too high risk and he ended up in 12th place.
Through six events the Chinese have looked unbeatable - six events, six wins. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues, although the pair of teenagers that will compete in women’s platform might feel the pressure as China gets closer to a sweep of the medals. Especially since China has not won that event since 1996!
- At the conclusion of the men’s springboard, the diving medal count stands at: China (8), Russia (4), Germany (3), Australia (1), Mexico (1), Canada (1). These totals count synchro as one medal.
- Alex Despatie is the only Canadian male to win an Olympic medal in diving.
- China has now won the gold on men's springboard for past four Olympic Games; Xion Ni (1996, 2000), Peng Bo (2004), He Chong (2008)
- The U.S. has not finished higher than sixth place in men's springboard since Mark Lenzi's bronze in 1996.
- During the finals, 15 perfect scores of 10 were given, as compared to two in semifinals. He Chong received 11 of those scores, with two going to Dmitri Sautin, and one each to Alex Despatie and Qin Kai.
- He Chong (China) – 572.90
- Alexandre Despatie (Canada) – 536.65
- Qin Kai (China) – 530.10
- Dmitri Sautin (Russia) – 512.65
- Pavlo Rozenberg (Germany) – 485.60
- Troy Dumais (United States) – 472.50
- Yahel Castillo (Mexico) – 462.10
- Patrick Hausding (Germany) – 462.05
- Robert Newbery (Australia) – 461.05
- Juan Guillermo Uran (Columbia) – 454.50
- Ken Terauchi (Japan) – 442.50
- Chris Colwill (United States) – 425.90
Men’s Olympic Springboard Diving Final Results