USA Diving News Aussie diver prevent...

Aussie diver prevents Chinese from golden sweep

Aug. 23, 2008, 11:30 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Matthew Mitcham of Australia, earning four perfect 10s on his last dive, won the men's 10-meter platform in an upset Saturday night that prevented China from sweeping the eight Olympic diving gold medals.

Mitcham totaled 537.95 points in the six-dive final, edging Zhou Luxin of China by 4.80 points and sending the platform title Down Under for the first time. He's the first Aussie man since 1924 to win a diving gold, and just the third Aussie ever.

"My cheeks hurt from smiling, my face hurts from the chlorine, my legs are sore from jumping up and down," Mitcham said. "I'm in pain and I'm tired, but I'm so happy.

"I thought maybe I could have gotten the bronze or silver medal. In my wildest dreams, I got the gold medal."

Zhou, who had a crooked entry on his last dive, took the silver with 533.15 points. Gleb Galperin of Russia earned the bronze with 525.80.

Zhou's teammate, Huo Liang, finished fourth.

Thomas Daley, Britain's second-youngest Olympian ever at 14, was seventh. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was at the Water Cube to see Daley, but left early.

The Chinese went 7-for-8 at the Water Cube, claiming 11 of the 24 medals awarded in the sport that has produced the host nation's most Olympic medals.

"I think the seven golds already proved the strength of the Chinese team," Zhou said. "We just missed out on that final gold."

Zhou led through the first five rounds, earning three 10s on his next-to-last dive. But the 20-year-old from Beijing entered the water crookedly on his final dive, scoring 74.80 points and leaving an opening for Mitcham, who followed him on the tower.

"I didn't focus on the points, but I knew I had a chance to get the gold," Zhou said. "Maybe because I was too eager to have a good performance that last round I made some small mistakes."

The Aussie hit the toughest dive anyone did all night - a backward 2½ somersault with 2½ twists - for 112.10 points, including four 10s.

That was Huo, who also did the tough dive with a 3.8 degree of difficulty, but scored 85.50 points. Zhou went with a conservative list through the preliminaries, semifinals and final, never attempting the back 2½ somersault with 2½ twists that Galperin and Boudia also performed.

"I didn't feel that much pressure from the Chinese. I didn't feel any pressure from anybody," he said. "I was not going to let anything external affect how I was feeling. Only what's in your mind can affect how you dive."

Huo concluded the competition, also doing the tough dive with a 3.8 degree of difficulty, but scoring 85.50 points. Zhou went with a conservative list through the preliminaries, semifinals and final, never attempting the back 2½ somersault with 2½ twists that Galperin and Boudia also performed.

Galperin secured his second medal of these games by hitting the 3.8 dive for 102.60 points, including one 10, in the last round. He and Dmitry Dobroskok earned a bronze on 10-meter synchro.

Galperin had been sidelined since winning the world title last year because of a spinal injury.

"I had problems in training because of injuries," he said. "I'm happy I was able to pull myself together for the bronze medal."

Mitcham showed early in the final that he could challenge the Chinese. His backward 3½ somersault earned four 10s, causing the Aussie to clasp his hands to his mouth in disbelief.

"I went into the competition just wanting to do six good dives," he said. "I knew if I dived well the results would look after themselves. Look where I am."

Chantelle Newbery won Australia's last diving gold, on women's platform in 2004. The country's only other gold came in 1924, when Richmond Eve won men's plain high diving, an event that was subsequently dropped from the Olympics.