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China authors most dominant diving world championships in history

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Yang Jian put an exclamation point on China’s most dominant world diving championships ever, winning the men’s platform with the highest finals score in recent history to end the meet.

Yang tallied 10s in each of the last two rounds to hold off countryman Yang Hao (who had all 10s in round four) with 598.65 points. Yang Hao tallied 585.75 for silver, 44.7 points ahead of Russian bronze medalist Aleksandr Bondar.

Ukrainian 13-year-old Oleksii Sereda took fourth.

British star Tom Daley, the defending world champion who had the previous recent highest score of 590.95 points, dropped out of the medals in the fifth round with the lowest score (46.25) of the 72 dives from 12 entrants. He ended up seventh.

Americans Brandon Loschiavo and David Dinsmore placed eighth and 12th, respectively.

China won all 12 events that it entered at diving worlds, skipping a mixed-gender springboard Saturday that’s not on the Olympic program.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, won every event that it entered at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after going 10 for 10 in 2011.

This year’s feat is more impressive because mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China not only won every gold but also every silver in the four individual Olympic program events.

Yang Jian is an interesting story in particular. In 2014, he broke the record for highest-scoring dive with a 123-point, front four-and-a-half, leading 2012 Olympic champion David Boudia to dub him the 2016 Olympic favorite.

But Yang struggled with injury in 2015, dropped to 10th at those worlds and wasn’t on China’s team for Rio. He came back for bronze at 2017 Worlds and silver at the 2018 World Cup before an ankle injury last winter.

“It is hard to win the gold medal after such a long term of difficulty in my life,” he said.

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MORE: No medal, but mission accomplished for David Boudia

China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

No medal for David Boudia as China extends perfect run at diving worlds

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David Boudia is very much a work in progress in his first year as a springboard diver. That much was evident in his dive list for Thursday’s final at the world championships, where Boudia had the lowest total degree of difficulty.

Boudia, a four-time Olympic platform medalist who earned individual platform silver at his last three world championships, took fifth in the springboard final in Gwangju, South Korea while performing easier dives than the other 11 men.

“My expectations have been exceeded,” he said, according to USA Diving. “I was very far from the medals, but with extremely low degree of difficulty compared to the rest of the field, I’m pleased with where I’m at. … I was glad I was able to get top eight so I can be competitive at World Series events next year.”

It marked Boudia’s first major international meet since Rio. He took 2017 off from diving to sell homes. In February 2018, he suffered a concussion on a badly missed dive in training off the 10-meter platform, sparking the switch to springboard, a common move for divers late in their careers.

Boudia will spend the next year — the next six months in particular — trying to close the gap on the medalists. China’s Xie Siyi and Cao Yuan went one-two.

Great Britain’s Jack Laugher was in position to become the first non-Chinese diver to take gold in 10 events this week before failing his last dive for 30.6 points, the lowest-scoring dive of the 72 in the final. Laugher scored at least 9.0s on his first five dives, including a 10, before recording between 2s and 3s from the seven judges in the last round and squandering a 31.1-point lead.

“That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” the Rio Olympic silver medalist Laugher said, adding that he felt “dead inside,” and “punched a wall like an idiot,” according to the BBC.

Laugher had 21.6 points in difficulty in Thursday’s final. Xie had 21.3 and Cao 21.2. Boudia had 19.9, arguably putting him out of the running for the podium before he stepped on the springboard.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, accomplished his goal for worlds simply by making the final.

Boudia and Rio Olympian Michael Hixon reached the top 12 to ensure the U.S. gets two men’s springboard spots at Tokyo 2020, to be filled at June’s Olympic trials in Indianapolis. Hixon, who was 10th in Rio and 20th at the 2017 Worlds, finished seventh in Gwangju.

Diving worlds continue with the women’s springboard final, featuring Chinese Olympic champion Shi Tingmao but no Americans, on Friday. The men’s platform final is Saturday.

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule