Alexandre Despatie takes diving silver

Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:39am EDT
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By Derek Parr

BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada's Alexandre Despatie, world champion in 2005, claimed the silver medal in the three-meter springboard event on Tuesday. He Chong captured China's sixth gold medal in six Beijing Olympic diving events.

The home hero drew roars from the home crowd in the Water Cube with every dive as he brought China their fourth consecutive Olympic gold in the men's springboard, dominating the final with a fizzing set of high-scoring dives.

He amassed 572.90 points from his six final dives to clinch the title which he had looked destined to win from round one when he reaped four perfect 10s for his forward 3-1/2 somersaults.

He, World Cup winner this year, surged further ahead on each dive until he was more than 36 points clear at the end, bringing China closer to a unique sweep of eight diving titles, with two events to come. Eleven perfect 10s of 15 awarded fell his way.

Despatie dove with great consistency after a shaky preliminary round on Monday and compiling 536.65 points.

World champion Qin Kai, who won gold with Wang Feng in the synchronized springboard last Wednesday, took bronze with 530.10, chasing Despatie, whom he had beaten into second place at the 2007 world championships, all the way. Each earned one 10 score.

He Chong, world bronze medalist in 2005, sealed victory in majestic style, the only man to top 100 points in this final with his concluding forward 2-1/2 somersaults with three twists which netted 100.70.

Dmitry Sautin, Olympic platform champion back in 1996, kept the top three on their toes with a series of fine dives, earning two 10s for his penultimate dive and scoring 99.75 for his concluding reverse 2-1/2 somersaults with 1-1/2 twists. But he had to settle for fourth place on 512.65.   Continued...