China’s Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao extended the nation’s era of diving dominance by winning the sport’s first gold medal of the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
Can Shi Tingmao replicate Wu Minxia's success across the next 10 years?
The duo asserted an early lead in the women’s 3-meter synchronised competition on July 20. An impressive score of 334.20 was posted across five rounds, a staggering 31.8 points ahead of Italy’s Tania Cagnatto and Francesca Dallape in second.
Alongside medal favourites China and Italy, Canada qualified for the final round in third place. The rest of the field was made up of hopefuls from Australia, Malaysia, Great Britain, Ukraine, USA, Mexico, Russia, Japan and Hong Kong.
Much like the rest of the competition, Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao’s final performance was an exciting masterclass of near perfection. The pair excelled with an overall score of 338.40 points across five dives, once again overpowering the Italy’s Cagnatto and Dallape, who finished with a respectable 307.80 in second. Canada’s Pamela Ware and Jennifer Abel followed with 292.08 to claim bronze.
China’s victory makes a special occasion for Wu. The 27-year-old competitor secured a record sixth world title with victory in Barcelona, marking over a decade of dominance that shows no signs of letting up, especially as this is her first professional performance alongside new partner Shi.
With nine world and Olympic gold medals to her name, it’s somewhat telling to consider the only major championship to elude Wu’s grasp came in the 2005 World Championships, a competition she didn’t compete in. As reported through a translator and by ESPN, the legendary diver was more than pleased with her latest triumph:
I'm really happy even though I do feel a bit old.
I believe that since we kept working hard and communicating we succeeded. I feel like one of the leaders of the team, and I feel so good that we could do so well in our first competition.
I always need a new partner to come up because I am old. My partners need to have a high level before starting with me.
Despite her age, Wu’s presence continues to play a major part in setting up a successful future for the Chinese diving team. Her willingness to accept Shi Tingmao as a partner on the major stage will only propel the talented 21-year-old to also producing a career of brilliance.
Shi—who represents the Chongqing diving team—captured the 1m springboard title at the 2011 World Aquatics Championship and has waited two years for her next major title. She followed Wu's every move during the Barcelona meet and highlighted her ability by mirroring the legend's inward two-and-a-half somersault pike on their third dive.
A twisting reverse pike with two-and-a-half somersaults followed, securing the best score of the finals at 78.30. Although a normal occasion for Wu, Shi did extremely well to handle the pressure of the big stage. Her excitement was there for all to see during the medal ceremony, but when she needed to perform, the youngster outlined herself as a future star.
Can anyone break the country's extended tenure on the diving throne? Shi's performance signals the beginning of a new age for China's female divers, suggesting Asian dominance is going to extend well into the next decade.