Anna Kozina, FINA Media Committee Member from Russia
National hopes Ilia Zakharov and Evgeniy Kuznezov took the first gold for team Russia and China claimed tree gold medals out of four on the first day of action at the closing leg of the FINA/NVC Diving World Series in Kazan.
In the morning finals, China traditionally prevailed. Chen Ruolin/Liu Huixia remained consistent throughout their five dives to capture the women’s 10 m synchro platform title in 340.50. Canadians Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito finished second with a total of 304.50 points. Leong Mun Yee and Pamg Pandelela Rinong (MAS) placed third, scoring 303.42.
In the men’s event, Chinese Lin Yue and Chen Aisen took the lead after the first dive and finished with two high scoring dives to score a total of 485.67. Ukrainian Maksym Dolgov and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov had a shaky start but then went up to the second place, totalling 450.87. Daniel Goodfellow and Thomas Daley of Great Britain claimed the bronze in 442.59.
In the evening He Zi and Wang Han of China emerged victorious in the 3m synchro springboard with 329.40 points. Italians Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape won silver (309.18), while Ukrainian Anastasia Nedobiga and Victoria Kesar placed third (291.06).
“It was important for the overall ranking” said satisfied Cagnotto. “Moreover in August at Worlds it was the only competition – I mean in synchro – that didn’t go well. And it is good for us to do this competition well. It is our third silver medal at this year’s World Series. It’s important for the Olympic Games as well”.
Cagnotto, who was the first Italian diver ever to become a World champion at the 2015 FINA World Championships (1m springboard), also admitted that it is something special for her to be back in Kazan.
“Before I climbed on the podium, I had very strong emotions”, she said.
Finally, the men’s 3m synchro springboard was perhaps the most thrilling final of the day for the home crowd. Ilia Zakharov and Evgeniy Kuznezov missed their fifth dive but took the gold medal scoring 437.76 points. Christopher Mears and Jack Laugher of Great Britain finished second earning 423.24 points. Ukrainians Ilya Kvasha and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov completed the podium (418.68).
Zakharov and Kuznezov were pleased with the level of the competition and with their performance.
“We trained hard, but every time something went wrong at the other competitions” told Kuznezov, “Now we showed a high level and we’ll try to keep on moving”.
On the absence of the strong rivals from China, Zakharov commented with a smile:
“If they were competing here, we would have had to focus more on our fifth dive”.