BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada’s Emilie Heymans won silver in a dramatic duel with fifteen-year-old Chen Ruolin, who won the gold, placing China on the brink of the first sweep of Olympic diving titles in more than half a century.
Heymans led world silver medalist Chen by a tiny 1.65 points going into the last round and completed the last of her five final dives with the consistent class she had shown throughout.
But nerveless Chen, diving last, proved more than equal to the challenge and produced a stunning back 2- somersaults with 1- twists which yielded four perfect 10s and the evening’s highest score of 100.30 points.
“I wasn’t looking at the marks...but I felt it was very close,” Chen said. “I just tried to think of it as a normal dive.”
Chen, who had led through the first three rounds of the final, amassed 447.70 points to beat Heymans by 10.65 points and become China’s first women’s Olympic platform champion since Fu Mingxia won the second of her highboard crowns in 1996.
It was a fine performance by Heymans, the 2003 world champion, who saw a medal slip from her grasp at the 2004 Olympics when she blew her final dive and slipped from second to fourth.
The 26-year-old Canadian claimed silver with 437.05 and 16-year-old world champion Wang Xin, who trailed the top two throughout the final, bronze with 429.90. Chen and Wang won the synchronized platform title last week.
Thirty-year-old American Laura Wilkinson, Olympic champion in 2000 and world champion in 2005, botched her second and third dives and finished a distant ninth.
Heymans, Canada’s second Beijing diving medalist following Alexandre Despatie’s silver in Tuesday’s men’s springboard final, had seized the lead with a magnificent reverse 3- somersaults which netted 95.20 points
The men’s platform final brings the eight-event Beijing diving program to an end on Saturday. The United States completed the last Olympic diving title sweep in 1952.
Writing by Derek Parr; editing by Steve Ginsburg