LONDON: With stunning precision and dazzling athleticism, the duo of Chen Ruolin and Wang Hao led China to another gold medal off the big tower in women's 10-meter synchronized diving Tuesday.
The Chinese were tied for second after the first round behind the British team, giving the home crowd a brief thrill. They quickly faded and no one could keep up with Chen and Wang, neither of whom has any fear of the 10-meter-tall tower.
The 19-year-olds earned at least 8.5 from the judges on each of their five dives, and even picked up a perfect 10 in the final round for synchronization with a back 2? somersault with 1? twists. They sliced through the water side by side, leaving barely a ripple as their tiny bodies disappeared beneath the surface.
China won going away with 368.40 points, making the country three-for-three at the London Olympics - nearly halfway to its goal of sweeping the eight diving events.
"They can make mistakes," said Canada's Meaghan Benfeito, who teamed with Roseline Filion to take the bronze. "We try to say we can win the gold. But they're amazing divers."
The only mistake came when the Chinese marks for the final round were posted. The announcer initially said "5.5, 6.0" - then stopped as the crowd gasped. She corrected herself and gave out the glittering numbers that secured the gold.
That was about the only stumble involving the gold medalists.
"I felt nervous when I saw others competing," Chen said through a translator, "but when I was on the platform I didn't feel that nervous. I think I was very calm. I just performed as I trained."
Which leaves everyone else performing for silver.
Chen defended her Olympic title in platform synchro by following up the win she had at the Beijing Games with a different partner. She is also the defending Olympic champion and heavy favorite in the women's individual event off the platform.
The Chinese bowed and smiled when they saw their scores, but they clearly knew this one was in the bag. The bigger celebrations broke out in the Mexican and Canadian camps when they realized their teams had earned spots on the medal podium.
"I expected the gold medal," said Wang. "That's why I was so calm during the medal ceremony."
She's teamed with Chen for two years, which is not a bad way to make your Olympic debut.
"I just told her, 'Don't be too nervous,'" Chen said. "But I think having moderate amounts of stress has its advantages."
Mexico's Paola Espinosa and 15-year-old Alejandra Orozco took the silver with 343.32, sticking with their country's strategy of using dives with a higher degree of difficulty. It paid off a day earlier for the men in synchro platform, who also won silver behind the Chinese.
"This was a great competition for us," Espinosa said. "We're very happy with the results. Our expectation for the day was to be among the medalists, and we made it."
Filion and Benfeito finished with 337.62, improving on their seventh-place finish in Beijing and giving the Canadians their second diving bronze of these games. The country also finished third in women's springboard synchro.
"We gave it all we had and we came away with a bronze medal," Benfeito said. "We're pretty happy with that."
Filion said the duo felt good about its chances after an "amazing" morning practice. They were calm and confident they could pull out a medal, if not necessarily a gold.
"We were ready," Filion said. "We talked to each other and said, 'There's nothing more we could have done, either here or at home. We're prepared. We did everything we could.'"
The United States, which won medals in the first two synchronized events, failed to qualify a team in women's 10-meter synchro. This is the only diving event the Americans will miss at the London Games. They hope to resume their medal-winning ways with Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen competing in men's 3-meter springboard synchro on Wednesday.
The U.S. - and everyone else, for that matter - will have to come up with a huge effort to snatch away a diving gold from China.
The powerhouse nation is trying to become the first to sweep the events since the program was doubled from four to eight at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The Chinese nearly pulled it off in Beijing, winning seven golds before Australia's Matthew Mitcham scored an upset in men's 10-meter platform on the final night.