Britain snags first diving title to deny China golden sweep in Rio

Jack Laugher and Chris Mears clinched the first-ever Olympic gold medal in diving for Britain Wednesday, ending China's dreams of a golden sweep in the sport at the Rio Games.

Laugher, 21, and Mears, 23, took the lead in the men's 3-metre springboard synchronized event during the third of six rounds and never looked back, finishing with 454.32 points.

"When the scores came up and it obviously said that we had won, I was still like: 'No, someone is playing a horrible prank on me, like how is this possible?'" Mears said. "It's fantastic. We're really proud to do it for GB."

"I think the team, it's been really strong out here in Rio. To add to that is a dream come true, especially in diving," added Laugher, who broke down in tears after the Rio win, which came four years after a disastrous performance at the London Olympics.

"I'm just overwhelmed with how I did today - to come from that place to here was why I was so emotional pool-side, because that was my lowest moment and my highest moment in two separate Olympics," Laugher said.

The United States' Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon took silver with 450.21 points, while China's Qin Kai and Cao Yuan came in a distant third for bronze with 443.70 points.

China had won the paired competition in the two prior Olympics and Qin could have become the first diver to earn three gold medals in the event had he won.

China had also hoped to clinch all eight diving golds for the first time in Rio.

Qin and Cao started out strong during the first two rounds, but then fell back and recovered only briefly in the fifth round before ending with a score of just 83.22 points for their last dive.

Cao said there had been "a lot of pressure" in that final performance and the pair had been "a little bit nervous."

"Our goal is the gold medal, for sure, but this is the Olympic Games. We have to accept this because we're athletes," Qin added. "We have ups and downs, and I still learn a lot from it. Maybe we'll do better next time."

The Rio divers continued to use an unusually green pool, which has been blamed on water treatment problems, but also had to contend with drizzling rain and cold wind gusts in the stadium, which is not fully sheltered from the elements.

The athletes played down the effect of the bad weather, however.

"Being from the UK, we're very much used to rain, wind and all that kind of stuff," Laugher quipped.

"We don't want to justify ourselves and blame it on the weather," said Russia's Ilia Zakharov, who surprisingly landed in second-to-last place despite having won silver four years ago in London.

Officials have said that the pool does not pose any risk to the health and safety of the athletes and should return to its natural blue colour later Wednesday. But the neighbouring water polo pool had also taken on a green tinge by the afternoon.

"It's more like diving into a sea," German trainer Lutz Buschkow said. "It continues to be water, whether green or blue."

Last update: Thu, 11/08/2016 - 00:45
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