Olympics / Swimming and Diving
Chinese divers win synchronized 10-meter platform
During the third of five dives that would ultimately win them the gold medal, the slow-motion replay revealed that Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin even wore the same serious expression as they pinwheeled toward the pool. Single-minded determination paid off.
The New York Times
BEIJING — They wear their hair in the same pixie cut, and at 4 feet 6 inches, they are identical in height. During the third of five dives that would ultimately win them the gold medal, the slow-motion replay revealed that Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin even wore the same serious expression as they pinwheeled toward the pool.
In the end, that single-minded determination paid off. Wang and Chen won the women's synchronized 10-meter platform by 28.38 points Tuesday before an enthusiastic hometown audience that included Li Changchun, a member of the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee, the nation's top ruling body. Australians Briony Cole and Melissa Wu placed second, and Mexican divers Paola Espinosa and Tatiana Ortiz won bronze, after coming back from last place during their first two dives. Americans Mary Beth Dunnichay and Haley Ishimatsu placed fifth.
Chen and Wang, who also won the World Cup in February, never faltered, making top-ranked dives during every round. While the other divers smiled between rounds and even danced to the goofy music playing over the loudspeakers, the Chinese pair barely cracked a smile, even after it was clear they would win the gold medal. Chen and Wang spun through the air like human yo-yos, slipping into the pool with a tiny splash. The largely Chinese crowd responded with a roar, waving oversized flags and shouting "jia you," a cheer meaning "add oil."
"They're dominating," Ishimatsu said afterward. Ishimatsu and Dunnichay almost did not compete in the event because their selection for the U.S. team was challenged by Laura Wilkinson and Jessica Livingston, who claimed they had outperformed the duo. Wilkinson and Livingston lost their appeal in July.
"We never thought about that," Dunnichay said of the controversy. "We just did what we could control."
Both 15, Ishimatsu and Dunnichay are close in age to Chen and Wang, who are both 16. Despite their expressionless demeanor during competition, Ishimatsu said: "They're really nice girls. They're really funny. They're always smiling and always laughing."
That sense of humor was evident at the news conference after the medal ceremony, when Chen and Wang joked and sparred with their mostly Chinese questioners. One reporter for the China Youth Daily newspaper asked the girls why they cut their hair so short, and whether they ever wore makeup or dresses.
With that, Wang Xin broke into a laugh and said, "We're still girls!"
Wang and Chen attributed their success to treating the Olympics like any other competition.
"We should relax and calm down, treat it as a normal competition," Chen said.
The last question of the news conference went to a Chinese reporter who asked the girls who they would like to thank. After ticking off the obvious choices — family, coach, Chinese leaders — Wang paused for dramatic effect and added with an impish smile, "Of course, I would also like to thank all of you."
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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