Beijing: The Chinese juggernaut hoovered up more gold on 11 August by claiming the men’s 10 metres synchronized platform diving title, but it failed to fulfil expectations on the shooting ranges.
Teenagers Lin Yue and Huo Liang took the diving crown by scoring 18 points more than second-placed German pair Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein for China’s seventh gold of the Games.
It leaves the sporting powerhouse on top of the medal table, ahead of arch-rivals the United States and South Korea.
At Athens four years ago, China finished with 32 gold, 17 silver and 14 bronze medals to place second behind the United States and it wants to beat them here to satisfy nationalist pride.
After diving queens Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia successfully defended their synchronized three-metre springboard crown on 10 August, Lin and Huo were under pressure to match the feat and they didn’t disappoint.
GuoJingjing and Wu Minxia of China compete in the women’s synchronized three-metre springboard diving final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on 10 August, 2008.
The writing was on the wall when they scored a perfect 10 from one of the judges in the first round, with the crowd on their feet at the Water Cube.
Going into the third day of competition, China’s other big hope was Zhu Qinan in the men’s 10m Air Rifle.
The 24-year-old defending champion had bounced back to form after missing the 2006 world championships but only managed second on 11 August behind India’s Abhinav Bindra.
Zhu said he was tired after the qualification rounds.
“I don’t know what was going on,” he said. “My mind went blank and I just could not focus on the final as I did in the qualification.
“I was very tired. The qualification used up all my energy and I had no time to rest since there was not much of a gap before the final.
“It was much harder than at Athens.”
And there was disappointment for 37-year-old world champion Liu Yingzi in the women’s Trap final, with Satu Makela-Nummela of Finland outshooting her to take the title.
An arguably even even greater shock for the hosts was the sight of defending Olympic champions Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen being sensationally dumped out in the quarter-finals of the women’s badminton doubles by Japanese underdogs Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna. “We tried our best and have no regrets,” Zhang said.
China has already won two weightlifting gold medals and should add another through Chen Yanqing in the women’s 58kg category Monday. Chen’s lift of 251kg at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha remains a world record.
Chinese strongman Zhang Xinagxiang is also favourite in the men’s 62kg category.
The host nation didn’t claim any more medals in the swimming pool Monday, following Zhang Nin’s breakthrough, but demonstrated that there is hope for the future.
Zhou Yafei was never going to win the 100m butterfly final with Australian world record holder Libby Trickett in the race, but she finished just off the podium in a creditable fourth.
Sun Ye, meanwhile, qualified for the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke wich Australia’s Leisel Jones should win. Chen Huijia missed the mark.
China’s world number one badminton player Lin Dan makes his Beijing debut Monday with Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei seen as his biggest threat.
Lin, notorious for his on-court outbursts, got his gold medal quest underway against Hong Kong’s Ng Wei.
China’s all-conquering men’s team enter the gymnastics finals in prime shape after a strong qualifying performance. The world champions have a roster that includes current world individual All-Round Olympic champion Yang wei.