Chen Roulin could stand alone in Olympic diving history after Rio 2016

Chen Ruolin
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China’s Chen Ruolin could finish the Rio Olympics with an unmatched diving record, and she could continue on to Tokyo 2020, but her platform prowess is in doubt after this past season.

Chen has entered four career Olympic events and won all of them. She took gold in the platform and synchronized platform at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, debuting at the Olympics as a 15-year-old.

Chen, now 22, lit the cauldron at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, in August 2014, but she suffered a setback this year.

Chen underperformed at the Chinese diving trials and did not make the World Championships team in the individual platform, where she had taken gold or silver at the previous four Worlds dating to 2007.

At Worlds, North Korean Kim Kuk-hyang came away with the platform title, followed by Chen’s countrywoman Ren Qian, who is 14, and Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong for an unusual all-Asian podium. North Korea owns zero Olympic diving medals.

Chen still competed, taking her fourth straight World title in the synchro platform.

If Chen can make her third Olympic team next year, she will go to Rio looking to break the record for most career Olympic diving gold medals.

She shares it with retired Americans Greg Louganis and Pat McCormick and retired Chinese Guo Jingjing and Fu Mingxia and an active teammate, Wu Minxia. Of those divers, only McCormick joined Chen in going undefeated at the Olympics, sweeping the individual platform and springboard in 1952 and 1956.

Wu, a three-time Olympian on the springboard and seven years older than Chen, also competed only in synchro at Worlds in July, earning gold.

Chen said at Worlds in Kazan, Russia, that she has no interest in the springboard, which platform divers have been known to switch to late in their careers.

Chen, who was raised by grandparents, started diving at age 4 and has shied away from talk of being China’s next great diver, also wouldn’t say if Rio would be her last Olympic run.

As for the best divers of all time, Chen named Guo and Wu as role models.

Chen said a fifth Olympic gold medal would be a highlight — but not necessarily the end — of one of the greatest diving careers, perhaps the greatest ever.

NBC Olympics researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report.

MORE DIVING: Men’s platform sets up for more drama in Rio

Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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