China red-hot at FINA Champs

2011-07-16 10:21

Shanghai - Red-hot Wu Minxia and He Zi kick-started China's hunt for an elusive diving clean-sweep on Saturday as the World Aquatics Championships got under way in Shanghai.

Wu and He led from the start at the open-air Crescent Lagoon diving pool, as they amassed 324.90 points to win the women's 3m synchronised springboard heats from Ukraine's Anna Pysmenska and Olena Fedorova.

In bright sun and light wind, the pair - competing for the mantle of China's new "diving queen" after Guo Jingjing's retirement - drew a series of increasingly loud gasps from the crowd with their dives.

He, who will also battle it out with Wu for the individual crown, said she was not troubled by a thigh strain picked up in training as she looked forward to the final later on Saturday.

"I have recovered well from the injury. It has no influence on my performance. Hope I can do better in the final," He said.

Italy's Francesca Dallape and Tania Cagnotto placed third, narrowly ahead of Svetlana Philippova and Anastasia Pozdniakova of Russia.

China claimed seven out of 10 titles at the 2009 championships and missed only one at the Beijing Olympics, raising hopes they could snare an unprecedented medals sweep in their first worlds on home turf.

The world championships, featuring 2 200 swimmers, divers and water polo players from a record 181 countries, will formally begin later on Saturday with an opening ceremony at 8:00 pm (1200 GMT).

Results of the diving competition on Saturday at the World Championships:

1. China (He Zi and Wu Minxia), 324.90 points.
2. Ukraine (Anna Pysmenska and Olena Fedorova), 291.90.
3. Italy (Francesca Dallape and Tania Cagnotto), 288.30
4. Russia (Svetlana Philippova and Anastasia Pozdniakova) 288.12.
5. Australia (Anabelle Smith and Sharleen Stratton), 285.90.
6 (tie). Germany (Katja Dieckow and Uschi Freitag), 276.90.
           United States (Christina Loukas and Kassidy Cook), 276.90
8. Canada (Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel), 275.10.
9. Mexico (Arantxa Chavez and Laura Sanchez), 272.10.
10. France (Fanny Bouvet and Marion Farissier), 255.84.
11. Malaysia (Mun Yee-leong and Yan Yee-ng), 254.40.
12. Macau (Teng Li and Ian Choi), 254.62.