China's Chen dominates Olympic platform semis
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By ANDREW DAMPF,
Updated August 9, 2012
LONDON (AP) Chen Ruolin and China are dominating in diving again.
The defending champion, Chen showed how far she is above the rest of the field in the semifinals of the women's 10-meter platform at the London Olympics on Thursday, as she attempts to restore China to the top of the podium after an unexpected loss.
Chen was one of only two divers to score more than 80 points with a single dive - but she did it four times - to finish with a total of 407.25 points.
"It was so-so," Chen said. "There were some dives that were not perfect, some entries that were not perfect."
Meaghan Benfeito of Canada qualified second with 359.90 points and Brittany Broben of Australia was third, less than a half-point behind with 359.55.
Melissa Wu of Australia, who earned a silver in 10-meter synchro four years ago, qualified fourth, while Pandelela Rinong Pamg of Malaysia was fifth.
Wu wasn't ready to hand Chen victory.
"Gold is never sewn up," she said. "I just want to do five good dives, and that's my goal for the final."
Pamg, who finished second to Chen in Wednesday's preliminary round, competed with a swimsuit featuring an image of the Olympic torch, with the word "dream" written below the flame.
Americans Brittany Viola and Katie Bell failed to qualify in 15th and 16th positions, respectively.
The top 12 finishers advanced to the final Thursday evening.
China has won five of six diving golds so far in London, including the women's 10-meter synchronized title claimed by Chen and Wang Hao. The country's bid to sweep all eight golds was spoiled when Ilya Zakharov of Russia won the men's 3-meter springboard Tuesday.
"It's encouraging me more," Chen said. "I'm taking my competition even more seriously."
Chen stood second after the first round, which was led by Yulia Koltunova of Russia, who executed a difficult armstand dive well. However, Koltunova then fell back and qualified sixth.
The only other diver to break the 80-point barrier was Broben, who earned 81.60 points for her second dive, an inward 3 1/2 somersault tuck.
Chen's most successful dive came in the last round, when she was awarded 84.80 for a back 2 1/2 somersault pike with 1 1/2 twists, which drew loud cheers from the morning crowd inside the Olympic Aquatics Centre.
Chen won both the individual and synchro titles before her home fans at the 2008 Beijing Games as a 15-year-old. She then swept both events at last year's world championships in Shanghai, too.
Still, it wasn't a completely successful morning for the favorites. China's other competitor, 16-year-old Hu Yadan, qualified just ninth. Hu took silver behind Chen at last year's worlds.
Christin Steuer of Germany advanced in seventh. She was in London as a reserve athlete and only got into the competition when her teammate Nora Subshinski withdrew because of a neck injury.
Paola Espinosa Sanchez of Mexico, who took silver with Alejandra Orozco in 10-meter synchro last week and bronze in the individual event at last year's worlds, just made it in 11th.