2012 diving: Can we just say “China” and move on?

China dominates diving. Period. But we’re going to be thorough in these projections. And if you’re looking for American medals, this is a sport with some potential despite a shutout in Beijing.

In addition to the 2009 World Championships, we have good gauges of form in the 2010 World Cup and World Series.

Men’s springboard: 2008 gold medalist He Chong fought off North American challengers Troy Dumais (USA) and Alexandre Despatie (Canada) to win the 2009 world title.

2008: He Chong (China), Alexandre Despatie (Canada), Qin Kai (China)

Projection: China, Mexico, USA

Top Americans: Dumais just keeps going in search of an elusive Olympic medal, finishing fourth in the 2010 World Series. Chris Colwill has made finals at Olympics and Worlds.

Women’s springboard: 2008 gold medalist Guo Jingjing was so far ahead of the pack at the 2009 Worlds that botching her fourth dive barely made a dent in her lead. Canada’s Emilie Heymans and Italy’s Tania Cagnotto took second and third. But then everything changed in 2010, when Guo retired. Naturally, another Chinese diver emerged to dominate the competition in 2010 — Zi He swept the World Series and World Cup, with Wu Minxia and Mexico’s Paola Espinosa battling for second.

2008: Guo Jingjing (China), Yulia Pakhalina (Russia), Wu Minxia (China)

Projection: China, Mexico, China

Top Americans: Ariel Rittenhouse placed fifth in 2009; Christina Loukas was eighth.

Men’s platform: Somehow, this is one event that eludes the Chinese team. Britain’s Thomas Daley beat China’s Qiu Bo and Zhou Lüxin in the 2009 Worlds, with 2008 gold medalist Matthew Mitcham of Australia a close fourth. Qiu swept the 2010 World Series, but Mitcham beat him in the World Cup.

2008: Matthew Mitcham (Australia), Zhou Lüxin (China), Gleb Galperin (Russia)

Projection: China, Australia, Britain

Top Americans: David Boudia and Thomas Finchem have their moments but are generally better contenders in synchro.

Women’s platform: At last, we have a change-up — a Chinese diver failed to defend an Olympic title at the 2009 Worlds, as Mexico’s Paola Espinosa upset Chen Ruolin and another Chinese diver, Kang Li. Chen and Kang finished 1-2 in the 2010 World Series, and China’s Hu Yadan took the World Cup ahead of Chen and Australia’s Melissa Wu. Espinosa struggled at the World Cup but was third in the World Series.

2008: Chen Ruolin (China), Emilie Heymans (Canada), Wang Xin (China)

Projection: China, China, Mexico

Top Americans: No one stood out in 2010, but someone could surprise out of the solid synchro duo of Haley Ishimatsu and Mary Beth Dunnichay.

Men’s synchronized springboard: A definitive 1-2 at 2008 Worlds — 2008 gold medalist Wang Feng/Qin Kai, followed by Dumais and fellow American Kristian Ipsen. Canada’s Reuben Ross teamed with Despatie for third. Qin went through a couple of different partners in 2010 but kept winning. Dumais/Ipsen beat Ukraine’s 2008 bronze medalists for second in the World Cup.

2008: Wang Feng/Qin Kai (China), Dmitri Sautin/Yuriy Kunakov (Russia), Illya Kvasha/Oleksiy Prygorov (Ukraine)

Projection: China, USA, Canada

Top Americans: Dumais has outlasted several partners in the sport but is still a contender.

Women’s synchronized springboard: Gold medalists Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia came back a year later at Worlds and posted the top score on all five dives. Italy’s Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape were far ahead of a battle for third contessted by Russia’s 2008 silver medalists, Canada and Australia. With Guo retired, Wu simply teamed up with He Zi to win the overall World Series title and the World Cup. Russia’s Anastasia Pozdniakova and new partner Svetlana Filippova won one World Series event and took second in two other competitions. Canada’s Jennifer Abel went back and forth between Meghan Benfeito and Emilie Heymans, with consistent top-five results.

2008: Guo Jingjing/Wu Minxia (China), Yulia Pakhalina/Anastasia Pozdniakova (Russia), Ditte Kotzian/Heike Fischer (Germany)

Projection: China, Russia, Canada

Top Americans: Kelci Bryant and Ariel Rittenhouse were a solid sixth at 2009 Worlds. They competed with different partners in 2010 as three different U.S. duos took part in the 2010 World Series, each placing third in their respective meets. Kassidy Cook and Cassidy Krug — no, those names aren’t made up — finished fifth in the World Cup.

Men’s synchronized platform: Lin Yue and Huo Liang were in their teens when they won gold in Beijing, and they left everyone else competing for second place in the 2009 Worlds, racking up 10s from a couple of judges not just on their early easy dives but their nasty degree-of-difficulty final dive. Americans David Boudia and Thomas Finchum won a three-way battle for second over a strong Cuban entry and Germany’s 2008 silver medalists. But the Cubans and Germans were the only duos to compete together and post podium finishes in 2010, with China’s new representatives of  Cao Yuan and Zhang Yanquan sweeping everything in sight.

2008: Lin Yue/Huo Liang (China), Patrick Hausding/Sascha Klein (Germany), Gleb Galperin/Dmitriy Dobroskok (Russia)

Projection: China, Germany, Cuba

Top Americans: Boudia, Finchum, Nick McCrory and J.J. Kinzbach competed in different permutations in 2010, with McCrory/Finchem third in a World Series meet and McCrory/Boudia fourth in the World Cup.

Women’s synchronized platform: Tired of reading about Chinese divers defending their gold medals at Worlds? Too bad. Chen and Wang were 22.20 points clear of Australian silver medalists Briony Cole and Melissa Wu after three dives. The only surprise was that Cole and Wu faded to fifth behind duos from the USA, Malaysia and Canada. Naturally, the Chinese team mixed things up slightly in 2010, as Chen teamed with Wang Hao to sweep the World Cup and World Series. Canada’s Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito finished on the podium in all four meets, while Australia’s Melissa Wu had four podium finishes with two different partners. Britain has a couple of contenders, taking fourth in three of the meets with different duos.

2008: Wang Xin/Chen Ruolin (China), Briony Cole/Melissa Wu (Australia), Paola Espinosa/Tatiana Ortiz (Mexico)

Projection: China, Canada, Australia

Top Americans: Mary Beth Dunnichay and Haley Ishimatsu moved up from fourth to second on their final dive at 2009 Worlds, but they dropped to eighth at the 2010 World Cup.

 

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