USA Diving News China in position to...

China in position to complete diving sweep

Aug. 22, 2008, 10:35 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Zhou Luxin led after the men's 10-meter platform preliminaries Friday night, putting China in position to complete a sweep of the eight diving gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Zhou totaled 539.80 points, earning a perfect 10 and two 9.5s on his toughest dive in the fourth round. Zhou totaled 99.00 points - his highest score - for the backward 3½ somersault.

The same dive earned the worst score for his 17-year-old teammate Huo Liang, whose legs smacked the water. Huo, who scored 52.20 points, was eighth among 18 divers advancing to Saturday's semifinals.

Huo, who stands just 5-foot-1, missed out on being chosen for the 2004 Athens Games because of knee problems that got him dropped from the national team.

Zhou will aim to collect China's eighth gold - and win the country's third consecutive men's Olympic 10-meter title - in Saturday night's final. The 20-year-old from Beijing was runner-up on platform at last year's world championships.

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.

Matthew Mitcham of Australia was second overall with 509.60, helped by three dives that scored at least 91 points, followed by platform world champion Gleb Galperin of Russia at 499.95. Galperin was a bronze medalist on synchronized platform in these games.

Aussie Matthew Helm, the silver medalist four years ago in Athens, was fifth.

American teenagers David Boudia and Thomas Finchum were sixth and seventh, giving the U.S. a chance to avoid being shut out of medals for a second consecutive Olympics.

"Thomas and I are going to get into the finals and dive our best and not worry about medals," Boudia vowed.

Seven of the 18 men who advanced attempted the night's toughest dive - a backward 2½ somersault with 2½ twists that carries a 3.8 degree of difficulty.

Mitcham and Boudia tied for the highest score - 91.20 points - on the dive, which Zhou didn't include in his six-dive list.

Finchum's list wasn't as challenging as Boudia's, but the 18-year-old from Indianapolis consistently scored in the 70s and 80s.

"I'm pretty pleased with my performance, and I can get better," Finchum said. "I know it's possible for me to hit all those dives. I don't feel any pressure. I'm doing what I love to do."

No American has won men's platform since Greg Louganis collected the second of his titles in 1988.

Sascha Klein of Germany, thought to be a solid contender, was 10th. Thomas Daley, a 14-year-old Brit, was 12th.

Daley was up and down all night, doing his best dive in the third round, when he earned five 9.0s for an inward 3½ somersault.

"My entries weren't as strong as they could've been," he said.

North Korea's Kim Chon Man finished last - 210.95 points behind Zhou. Three rounds in a row he had the lowest-scoring dive, loudly smacking the water with his legs, and when he walked out for his last dive, the rabid Chinese fans encouraged him with a rousing round of applause.

It worked, too, as Kim had the 11th-best dive of the round.