Much like 2008, China's goal is to sweep the gold medals in diving in 2012. And just as in 2008 China got off to great start as the synchro pair of Wu Minxia and He Zi cruised to a 24.3 point victory in the women's synchronized springboard.
The Chinese team never trailed and had the highest score in each of the five rounds, highlighted by their final two dives that each scored over 80 points. Scoring over 70 points on optional dives is a benchmark for success in women's synchro, so to score 80, well, it will get you an Olympic gold medal.
The dominant theme of this event, as well as many of those to follow, was not whether the Chinese would win but who would grab the remaining two medals.
In this case it was the U.S. team of Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston, whose silver medal ended an American Olympic diving medal drought that stretched back to 2000, and was the first U.S. medal in synchronized diving since it was added to the Olympic program in 2000.
The U.S. was clearly in good form and did not seem to have the jitters that several of the other teams showed throughout the contest. Relaxing during the contest is a big key in synchro because of the timing of the two divers, and their timing was spot on as the two never received a synchro score lower than 8.
More like the happy hunters than those expected to medal, they seemed more comfortable out of the medal conversation and the pressure associated with it. This is not to say the the pair were not expected to be in the hunt, but that others - specifically the Canadians, Australians and Italians, had more international results and were expected to do well.
From the start the U.S. team looked very happy and relaxed. No frowns or looks of doom (not that you would expect that from Abby who seems to wear a permanent grin), and when the two scored over 50 points on their voluntary dives you kind of got the feeling that maybe something really good might be about to happen.
Of course, the optional dives are where the contest is won or lost and Bryant and Johnston's demeanor never changed as they went on a consistent march through their final three dives scoring over 70 points on each of them. By the final dive, it really became a matter of what color the medal would be.
As far as the overall competition, it was almost a duplicate of 2008 with the scores being very similar.
In 2008 Wu Minxia and Guo Jingjing won the event with a score of 343.50, and Anastasia Pozdnyakova and Yulia Pakhalina of Russia were second at 323.61; compared to 346.20 and 321.90 in 2012.
And again as in 2008, a score of 314 was the heart breaker with Italy's Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape’ fourth in 314.10. In 2008 fourth place scored 314.40 and the divers who missed out on the podium that year ... Ariel Rittenhouse and Kelci Bryant.
So one event and one medal for Team USA, and no doubt a wave of confidence and excitement that hasn't been seen in 12 years.
Next up - Men's Synchronized Platform which will take place on Monday, July 10th at 10:00 am EST.
- Wu Minxia now has five Olympic medals, three of them gold. She also has a three-peat, having won the same event - synchronized springboard, in three consecutive games. She won a springboard silver from 2004 and a springboard bronze in 2008. With a medal in the individual springboard, she will tie Guo Jingjing for the most medals won by a female diver at six.
- Emilie Heymans made history with her bronze medal. She is now the only female diver to win an Olympic medal in four consecutive Games. Along with this bronze, she won a silver in 10M synchro in 2000, a bronze in 10M synchro in 2004, and a silver on platform in 2008.
- The last Olympic medal won by a U.S. diver was in 2000 when Laura Wilkinson won platform.
- Kelci Bryant is coached individually by Wenbo Chen at the University of Minnesota. Abby Johnston is coached by Drew Johansen at Duke University.
- Women's Synchronized Springboard Photo Gallery
- He Zi / Wu Minxia (China) – 346.20
- Abby Johnston / Kelci Bryant (United States) - 321.90
- Emilie Heymans / Jennifer Abel (Canada) - 316.80
- Tania Cagnotto / Francesca Dallape’ (Italy) – 314.10
- Anabelle Smith / Sharleen Stratton (Australia) – 304.95
- Olena Fedorova / Anna Pysmenka (Ukraine) – 302.40
- Rebecca Gallantree / Alicia Blagg (Great Britain) – 278.25
- Jun Hoong Cheong / Pandelela Rinong Pamg (Malaysia) - 283.50
Women’s Olympic Synchronized Springboard Diving Results