By Yuki Nitta and Richa Naidu
TOKYO (Reuters) -In a series of near-perfect twists, rolls, tucks and pointed toes, China’s Xie Siyi claimed yet another men’s 3 metre springboard Olympic gold medal for his country whose athletes have dominated the sport for years.
With this, Xie becomes the first male diver in 20 years to win both individual and synchronised 3m springboard at the same Olympic games, after his compatriot Xiong Ni managed the feat at the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games.
His teammate, 19-year-old Wang Zongyuan, also produced six impressive dives to claim the silver, while Britain’s Jack Laugher bagged the bronze.
Xie and Wang, who embraced and cried after they won, had been in the top two for the entire competition, and finished with 558.75 and 534.90 points, respectively.
Xie, scouted soon after entering primary school, slid into the water to pin-drop silence each time he dived, and finished to resounding cheers from teammates waving the Chinese flag.
Xie and Wang each scored a whopping 102.60 points for their last dives, the highest score of the finals.
“I did this for my country,” a tearful Xie said, clutching his medal as he spoke. He added that he did not wish to talk about an inspirational coach of his who passed away, but said that he “can still hear his voice around me”.
China’s dominance in diving is akin to its performance in table tennis and badminton, having won 37 of 48 gold medals in diving at the last seven Olympics.
“I feel very proud of myself because this is my first Olympics,” said Wang, who clapped enthusiastically and punched his fists into the air when Xie’s final score was announced. “I’m really proud of my teammate – he did a lot for the Games.”
In the women’s 10m platform event on Wednesday, China’s 15-year-old Chen Yuxi is the favourite for gold.
(Reporting by Yuki Nitta and Richa Naidu in Tokyo; Editing by Himani Sarkar)