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China in seventh heaven at worlds

HUO Liang and Lin Yue gave China its seventh diving gold medal of the world championships in Rome, cruising to an easy victory in men's 10-meter synchro yesterday.

The Chinese duo led through all six rounds and finished with 482.58 points. The real race was for the silver.

David Boudia and Thomas Finchum of the US took the runner-up spot with 456.84, edging Cuba's Jose Antonio Guerra Oliva and Jeinkler Ernesto Aguirre Manso, who took bronze with 456.60.

Germany's Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein just missed the podium, settling for fourth with 455.76 -- a mere 1.08 points separating the next three teams behind China.

"Before the last dive, I could see my heart beating," Finchum said. "I was like, 'Uh oh, this is going to be close.'"

No one was close to China.

The world's diving superpower showed no signs of letting up with seven gold, four silver and three bronze medals in the 10 diving events -- nearly more than every other nation combined and just two shy of the maximum it could earn. A pair of fourth-place finishes were the only thing that kept the China from putting all its divers on the medal stand.

"We had a great team here," Lin said. "We were working well even after Beijing," where the home team took seven out of eight golds at the last Olympics.

Huo and Lin had the top-scoring dive in four rounds, the second-highest in the other two.

Mirror images

No one else was even close to the precision and synchronization of the Chinese, who looked like mirror images as they twisted and spun toward the water. They earned at least one perfect 10 on three of their dives.

"We work well together," Lin said. "But we still think we can do better."

Elsewhere, with an aquatic-themed performance, Russia wrapped up another dominating run at the synchronized swimming pool with a victory in the final event, team free.

The Russians received a couple of 10s for artistic impression and nothing lower that 9.9 for a total of 99.167 points yesterday. They swam to Alveiro's "Life of Sea," bouncing in and out of the water like dolphins at one point and kicking their legs in perfect sync to the music at the end of their routine.

Perennial runner-up Spain, wearing skeleton suits to go along with their "Haunted House" music, received one 10 for artistic impression but settled for another silver at 98.167. China was third at 97.167.

Russia won six of seven synchro events.

Valerio Cleri, meanwhile, easily clinched the men's open water 25km world title to more than make up for missing a medal in the 10km race.

The Italian won in five hours 26 minutes to roars of delight from the home crowd on Ostia beach, with Australia's Trent Grimsey second and Russian Vladimir Dyatchin a distant third. Cleri was fourth in last Wednesday's 10km race but thought he had won bronze when third-placed Francis Crippen missed a gate. However, judges decided against disqualifying the American.

"I am smiling inside. I am happy thinking about all the people who were happy the other day," he said, referring to his missed bronze. "I've done two great races. I feel fresher today than three days ago."

Swimmers had to deal with large waves yesterday which pushed the buoys on the course close to the shore.

The choppy seas meant Cleri's time was 22 minutes behind Maarten Van der Weijden's winning mark at last year's worlds in Seville.

In the women's race, the final event in the open water worlds, Germany's Angela Maurer triumphed in five hours 47 minutes ahead of Russian Anna Uvarova and Federica Vitale of Italy.

German favorite Thomas Lurz won the 5km and 10km races earlier in the week to rack up eight world titles.

Britain's Keri-Anne Payne took the women's 10km crown on Wednesday after Australia's Melissa Gorman had snatched victory in the 5km event.


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