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July 28, 2021

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Teen duo extends diving win streak

Teen divers Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi blew their opponents away in the women’s 10-meter synchronized platform yesterday, extending China’s winning streak in the event to six Olympic Games.

Aged 15 and 17, the pair — who hugged each other on the podium after receiving their gold medals — were in a league of their own at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

They finished on 363.78 points, more than 52 ahead of second-placed Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the United States.

“We do have an advantage in our age. We are short and light, and this means that our (water) entry is better than the others,” said Zhang, world champion in the synchronized platform in 2019, after winning their country’s second diving gold in Tokyo.

“Our weakness is we are inexperienced. They have much more experience, we only have one world championships.”

Chen added: “Of course, we can feel the pressure because we are young, (but) we have nothing to lose. We are brave to face any challenges.”

However, Chen, a world champion in the individual event when she was only 13, cautioned that “I hope we are not one-time wonders.

“From a very, very young age I planted this seed and knew this was my dream.”

China has an unbeaten record in the event, which was introduced in 2000, while Parratto and Schnell’s medal was America’s first.

“I didn’t know (we could win silver) until pretty much the last dive. Just absolutely insane,” said Parratto. “I feel like this event is always so close, so there’s always that team that’s kind of fighting to get almost a bronze.”

Mexico’s Gabriela Agundez Garcia and Alejandra Orozco Loza took bronze with 299.70.

“This is the result of so many many many years of work,” said Agundez Garcia. “Many years of fighting, of giving everything in every training session.”

Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito, who narrowly missed out on a fourth Olympic medal, is twice as old as the Chinese pair at age 32.

China’s dream of sweeping up all eight diving golds ended on Monday when Britain’s Tom Daley and Matty Lee took the men’s synchronized 10m platform title.

The competition resumes today with the men’s synchronized 3m springboard final.

China took gold on the first day of diving, in women’s synchronized 3m springboard.


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