By Yuki Nitta
TOKYO (Reuters) -Shi Tingmao and Wang Han earned China their first diving gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics when they triumphed in the women’s synchronised 3-metre springboard on Sunday, keeping the country’s winning streak in the sport rolling.
Aiming for a clean sweep of all eight diving golds on offer in women’s and men’s events, the Asian powerhouse struck gold with Shi and Wang leading the five-round final from the very start, finishing on 326.40 points.
Cheers from team mates and coaches rang around the mostly empty venue when the duo plunged into the pool with almost no splash on their last dive, showing once again their dominance of the event.
“This is our first (diving) gold medal of this Olympics, so now I feel much more comfortable. I know we can be even better and China will do better. I’m feeling a good nervous,” Shi told reporters.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ticket-paying spectators have been banned from attending the events and the lack of atmosphere has made it hard for some athletes to physically and mentally adjust to the conditions.
“Even though we could not hear our audience, we still felt very supported throughout the competition,” she added.
China have now won the last five Olympic titles in the event that was introduced into the Games programme in 2000.
For Shi, the Tokyo win marked a second successive Olympic gold medal in the event.
Canadian pair Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu took silver with 300.78 points.
“I’m very happy, super satisfied. I couldn’t ask for a better day” Abel, who claimed her second Olympic medal, told reporters.
Germany’s Lena Hentschel and Tina Punzel were delighted to have won bronze with 284.97 points.
“It’s incredible to know that this is the first medal for Team Germany. All the work which is behind this medal, it’s incredible really to realise that this is the first one for Germany, and we hope that they will come much more,” Hentschel said.
(Reporting by Yuki Nitta; Editing by Stephen Coates, Kenneth Maxwell and Pritha Sarkar)