China is poised to return to the top of the medal podium in diving. Shi Tingmao and He Zi finished 1-2 in the women’s 3-meter springboard semifinals Saturday, the first of six individual events at the Rio Games.
Shi totaled 385.00 points, with He nearly 21 points behind in second at 364.05. China has won the event at seven straight Olympics, one short of the eight straight golds won by the United States from 1920-56.
The Chinese won three of four synchronized diving golds in Rio.
Jennifer Abel of Canada, who led after the preliminaries, slipped to third at 343.45 in the five-round semis.
Shi was third after the prelims a day earlier in her first games. She will dive last in Sunday’s final, where scores don’t carry over.
“I feel there are benefits of going last, but still the pressure will be much bigger,” Shi said through a translator. “This is why it’s so important for me to adjust my mental state from what I had today.”
Four years ago in London, He finished second to countrywoman Wu Minxia in 3-meter.
American Abby Johnston was fifth at 324.75 after a consistent performance in which her scores were no lower than 61.50 on any of her dives.
“I was a little more nervous today than I was yesterday, and I hope I can be more confident tomorrow,” she said.
Johnston plans to retire after Rio and return to medical school at Duke University.
Teammate Kassidy Cook, an Olympic rookie, missed making the 12-woman final by four points. She finished 13th.
Cook missed her second dive, a front 3 1/2 pike in which she starts back on the board instead of at the edge. She earned just 41.85 points.
“Those are kind of tricky,” she said. “Once I land on the end of the board, I know how to do the dive. It’s just a matter of getting there. I felt a little shaky in my step, so I was out of timing with the board.”
The water in the diving pool remained a dark green for the fifth straight day instead of the usual clear blue.
Aussie Maddison Keeney, who finished fourth, described it as “pretty gross.”
“You’re standing on the stairs and you can’t see your feet, one and half meters down,” she said. “When you’re standing up there, it’s a bit off-putting. I just try to close my eyes and close my mouth.”