China closing in on platform diving gold medal
LONDON (AP) -- China is poised to finish with gold in the final diving event of the London Olympics.
Qiu Bo and Lin Yue led the 10-meter platform semifinals Saturday, while defending champion Matthew Mitcham of Australia failed to qualify in 13th. Only the top 12 finishers advanced to the final later Saturday.
Four years ago in Beijing, Mitcham's surprise win prevented China from a sweep of all eight diving golds before its home fans.
"Coming 13th and missing out by one spot is really hard," Mitcham said. "If I had come 18th it would have been easy to say, 'Oh well, I didn't have a chance.'
"It was always going to be a massive struggle for me," said Mitcham, who has struggled with injuries. "I'm always going to be an Olympic champion."
China has won six golds so far at the London Games, losing only the men's 3-meter springboard to Ilya Zakharov of Russia.
"I'm getting better round after round," Lin said. "I'm desperate for gold."
While Qiu and Lin struggled slightly on their opening two dives, they led the standings by the end of the third round, sharing the highest score for a single dive.
Lin was awarded 102.60 points for a back 3 1/2 somersault and Qiu duplicated that score in the fourth round with the same dive.
By the end of the six rounds, Qiu led with 563.55 points and Lin was next with 541.80.
Qiu is the reigning world champion in the event, while Lin won gold with Huo Liang in 10-meter synchronized in Beijing.
David Boudia of the United States qualified third with 531.15 points as he looks to add to his bronze in synchro last week with Nicholas McCrory.
Boudia won silver behind Qiu at last year's worlds in Shanghai but barely made it out of prelims in 18th, the last qualifying spot.
Boudia struggled with his fourth dive in prelims. This time, he was consistent all the way through, even earning a 94.35 for his third dive, a forward 4 1/2 somersault. Besides the Chinese, no other competitor received as high a score.
"It's night and day," Boudia said. "It was totally different diving. After the preliminaries, which is a marathon event, getting six hours sleep, it's a new day. I was totally relaxed and this is what the result looks like."
Local favorite Tom Daley of Britain, the 2009 world champion, earned loud cheers as he placed fourth.
"That's diving for you, anything can happen," Daley said. "Yesterday both Boudia and I both qualified near the bottom, but today we are near the top of the table. The Chinese have been very consistent, though."
McCrory also advanced in seventh, while worlds bronze medalist Sascha Klein of Germany was eighth.
Mitcham was on course to qualify until he had trouble executing his final dive, a back 2 1/2 somersault with 2 1/2 twists. Now he's considering going back on his retirement plans, and maybe even becoming a springboard diver for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
"I decided before London 2012 that it would be my last Olympic Games because of all the injuries and I couldn't see it getting any better," Mitcham said. "But now I never want to miss another Olympics again. Whether it be springboard or media I'm going to be in Rio."
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