Si, Chen top 10m prelims at worlds

Si Yajie
14-year-old Si Yajie is the world champion in the 10m platform.
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China's 14-year-old Si Yajie and two-time Olympic gold medalist Chen Ruolin easily won the gold and silver medals in the women's 10-meter platform diving at the world championships Thursday.

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The final quickly became a duel between the two Chinese divers, making sure that the world's pre-eminent diving power collected its sixth gold in seven events at the scenic Montjuic Municipal pool.

Si became world champion in the youngster's first major international competition, while 2011 world champion Chen settled for silver to go with her gold in the 10-meter synchronized she won Monday with Liu Huixia.

Si earned 392.15 points for her five dives, while Chen had 388.70. Ukraine's Iuliia Prokopchuk claimed the bronze medal with 358.40.

It was the 21-year-old Chen's eighth career medal at a world championship to go with her four Olympic golds. All have come in either the 10-meter platform individual or synchronized events.

Si joined her local diving team at age 7 and has competed on the Grand Prix circuit since 2011. She had shown signs of being ready to compete for a medal after finishing the semifinals in third place.

Regardless, Chen was the favorite given both her outstanding record and her strong winning form here in Spain.

It was clear from the start that barring a major bobble, the title was going to come down to one of the two. Chen and Si performed the same dive program and they both nailed their first three dives for identical scores to open a 42-point lead over the other 10 finalists.

After matching one another, Si went ahead for good when Chen couldn't straighten out on a backward tuck with 3 1/2 somersaults on her fourth effort. Si then executed a backward pike with 2 1/2 somersaults with 1 1/2 twists to seal the win over her more experienced countrywoman.

On Friday China looks poised to add yet another gold after 2007 champion Qin Kai and two-time reigning champion He Chong led Thursday's semifinal in the men's 3-meter springboard.

Qin and He already paired up to win the men's 3-meter synchronized springboard title Tuesday.

Olympic champion Ilia Zakharov of Russia failed to advance to the final of 12.

Qin led the semifinal with 493.65 points through six dives, while He totaled 483.15.

Tagged: He Chong, Qin Kai, Chen Ruolin

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