Guo leads women's 3-meter springboard prelims

Aug. 15, 2008, 4:37 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Guo Jingjing kept China on its path toward a sweep of all eight diving gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, leading after the women's 3-meter springboard preliminaries Friday.

Guo already successfully defended her synchronized springboard title with partner Wu Minxia last weekend to win China's first diving gold on home turf. Now, Guo is in position to claim her second consecutive Olympic 3-meter individual title.

The grande dame of diving totaled 373.90 points after the five-round preliminaries in front of a packed, partisan crowd at the Water Cube. Guo is a four-time world champion who plans to retire after Beijing.

She wasn't perfect, though. Guo botched her third dive, a forward 3½ somersault from the pike position, earning just 58.90 points. That dropped her to third place before she moved to the top.

Julia Pakhalina of Russia, the bronze medalist four years ago in Athens, was second at 358.15. Blythe Hartley, who only entered the event because Canada didn't qualify in synchronized springboard, was third at 350.60.

Wu, silver medalist to Guo in Athens, was fourth at 349.45. She was runner-up to Guo at the world championships last year and in 2005.

Wu struggled on her first dive, failing to enter the water straight and winding up 14th. But she steadied herself and didn't score below 70 points over the next four rounds.

The Chinese have won the event at five consecutive Olympics.

"It's not discouraging because we're so used to it," said Hartley, who plans to quit after the games. "They've been dominating for so long. They're amazing divers."

China is 4-for-4 after claiming all the synchronized gold medals in Beijing. No country has swept the diving medals since the United States did in 1952, but back then, there were only four events. Synchronized diving was added at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.