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Worlds open with Qin's diving gold

7/18/2009

ROME -- Qin Kai and Zhang Xinhua of China swept the top two places in 1-meter springboard diving to open the swimming world championships on Friday.

Qin compiled 449 points in the six-dive final. Zhang took silver with 445.90 points and Matthew Mitcham of Australia was third with 440.20.

Qin won gold at last year's Beijing Olympics with Wang Feng in 3-meter synchronized and took bronze in 3-meter springboard. He also won two golds at the last worlds in Melbourne, Australia, two years ago.

Qin took control with his fifth dive, a reverse 2½ somersault pike that earned 8.5s and 9s.

Zhang won his first medal at a major championship and moved ahead of Mitcham with his final dive, a forward 2½ somersault with one twist that received 8s and 8.5s from the judges.

"Everybody needs to have a big dive in the final round," Mitcham said. "I did it at the Olympics and he did it here and he deserves that medal."

Mitcham won the 10-meter platform to prevent China from sweeping all eight gold medals at the Olympics. While he led after Rounds 1 and 4, he is not a springboard specialist.

"I only train [springboard] once a week," Mitcham said. "It shows that I'm improving though, if I'm up there competing for medals with these guys. Since the Olympics I've been trying to bring my springboard level up to my platform level."

Peter Waterfield of Britain finished fourth and Chris Colwill of the United States placed ninth after coming in second in the preliminary round earlier Friday.

The competition was held before a small crowd at the Foro Italico. The heat may have kept fans away, with the temperature soaring near 100 degrees.