Olympic men’s platform diving favorite clear after Beijing World Series

Yang Jian
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China swept all 10 gold medals at the FINA Diving World Series season opener in Beijing, with the most notable coming in the men’s platform Sunday.

Yang Jian beat 2012 U.S. Olympic champion David Boudia by 52.7 points in a dominating performance. In the last of six rounds in the final, Yang matched his world record point total for a single dive with 123. He scored 10s on a front 4 1/2 somersault pike.

“I didn’t expect to perform this dive that well,” Yang said, according to the Global Times. “My form and strength haven’t been at their peak recently.”

The entire 45-minute final can be viewed here, including Yang’s 123-pointer on the penultimate dive of the competition.

Yang also scored 123 points on the same dive at a London World Series event last April (video here).

Boudia, who predicted in July that Yang would be the favorite going into the Rio Olympics, said he felt winning silver on Sunday was a boost given he hadn’t competed in a big meet since last summer, according to FINA.

Boudia was close to Yang after three of six rounds — 6.85 points behind — before Yang opened up the gap.

Reigning Chinese World champion Qiu Bo finished fourth in Beijing after missing badly on his third-round dive that scored fours.

British star Tom Daley finished fourth in his semifinal and failed to advance to the six-man final.

Yang burst onto the scene last year, winning the biggest competition — the FINA World Cup in Shanghai — by 15.33 points over Qiu. Boudia sat out that event.

Boudia may have been well back on Sunday, but remember Qiu won the 2011 World Championships by 41.2 points. One year later, Boudia upset Qiu at the London Olympics to win the first U.S. diving gold since 2000.

In 2013, Qiu took the World title by 63.6 points over Boudia. Now Yang is the man, showing how quickly the cards can shuffle in the event.

Boudia is expected to compete again in this week’s World Series event in Dubai.

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