SHANGHAI -- Qin Kai missed a dive so badly, his teammate and some of the other athletes thought he'd had an accident.
Instead, it was just bad luck.
He Chong successfully defended his 3-meter title at the world championships, giving China its eighth gold medal after Qin's stunning mistake cost his country another likely medal Friday.
He totaled 554.30 points in the six-dive final, taking the lead in the fifth round when Qin dropped from first to fifth. Qin, the 2007 champion, finished fourth.
"I did not watch him dive carefully, maybe it's an accident, not a technical problem," He said. "We always compete against the foreign divers as a team, so his mistake put me under greater pressure."
He was sixth after three dives, but quickly moved up into the top two before claiming the title.
"I was kind of nervous sometime during the competition, especially on Dive 2," he said. "I was exhausted after the prelim and semifinal yesterday, so the gold medal is really satisfactory."
Ilya Zakharov of Russia earned the silver with 508.95, and teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov took the bronze with 493.55. American Troy Dumais, the silver medalist two years ago in Rome, was fifth.
Qin botched a forward 4½ somersault, entering the water with his legs severely bent, a sight that drew gasps from the mostly Chinese fans. Qin received marks ranging from 2.5 to 3.0.
"I wiped the water off the board, but it was still slippery. That's why I missed," he said. "But I don't feel regretful, maybe it's just not the right time for me to win."
Qin stared at the scoreboard with his right hand on his forehead before walking to the shower on deck and burying his face against the panel.
"I feel really sad because I have trained very hard over the years," he said. "Maybe it is a precious experience for me. As for next year's London Olympics, my goal remains the same -- the gold medal."
Qin finished strongly, earning marks of 9.0 to 9.5 on his last dive, but the damage was done.
"When Chinese diver made that mistake on Dive 5, we thought it should be an accident," Kuznetsov said. "We didn't get distracted from that and stayed focused on our own routines."
Zakharov and Kuznetsov earned their second medals of the meet, having teamed to share silver in the 3-meter synchro.
It was the first time in four individual events that the Chinese didn't finish 1-2. Overall, the hosts have won 11 diving medals, and their chance to sweep the gold medals for the first time at worlds remains on track with two events remaining.
Dumais was second after two dives, but he created a big splash upon entry in the fourth round and couldn't move into medal contention even after Qin's stunning mistake.
"I dived well, but I can do better, and I will go home and work more," he said.
Earlier, China's Wu Minxia qualified first for Saturday's women's 3-meter springboard final. Her teammate, He Zi, was third. Jennifer Abel of Canada was second.
American Kelci Bryant was fifth and teammate Christina Loukas sixth.