China’s Cao Yuan dominates men’s 3m for gold; no medals for USA

In a final that seeemed wide open with both the reigning Olympic champion and World champion out, China’s Cao Yuan made sure that it wasn’t.

Cao set the gold standard throughout his 547.60-point program Tuesday night at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center in Rio, leading from start to finish to win the gold medal.

Great Britain’s Jack Laugher took silver with 523.85 points. Germany’s Patrick Hausding — “Mr. Fourth Place” — finally cracked the podium and won bronze with 498.90 points and the best dive of the night, a 98.80-pointer in Round 5.

It was a strong showing for USA divers Kristian Ipsen and Michael Hixon, but they will go home without a medal in the individual 3m. Ipsen finished fifth with 475.80 points and Hixon finished 10th with 431.65 points.

Laugher earned a medal after narrowly dodging elimination in the semifinal. Heleapfrogged Italy’s Michele Benedetti on his final dive for the 12th and final berth in the final. The high-flying 21-year-old is putting serious pressure on Tom Daley for the crown among English divers. Laugher will take home the individual 3m silver medal in addition to the gold he won with partner Chris Mears in the synchronized 3m last Wednesday.

After a strong opening dive, Cao delivered back-to-back 94.50-point dives to distance himself from the pack. Cao ripped all six entries and slammed the door shut with a 96.90 on his final attempt. He eclipsed the 90-point mark on four of his six dives.

Rommel Pacheco finished second in both the preliminary and semifinal, but the veteran from Mexico began the final with two of his worst dives of the two-day event. Despite a massive 96.90-point dive in his final attempt, Pacheco finished well off the podium in seventh place with 451.20.

The level of compeition rose with medals on the line. The final saw significantly cleaner entries and higher scores than in the preliminary and semifinal.

Kristian Ipsen’s list

1. Back 2.5 pike — 3.0 degree of difficulty — 72.00 points
2. Inward 2.5 pike — 3.0 — 75.00
3. Forward 3.5 pike — 3.1 — 72.85
4. Reverse 1.5 free 3.5 twists — 3.5 — 89.25
5. Reverse 3.5 tuck — 3.4 — 77.00
6. Forward 2.5 pike 3 twists — 3.9 — 89.70
Total score: 475.80

Michael Hixon’s list

1. Back 2.5 pike — 3.0 — 60.00
2. Forward 2.5 pike 2 twists — 3.4 — 81.60
3. Reverse 1.5 free 3.5 twists — 3.5 — 85.75
4. Reverse 3.5 tuck — 3.5 — 77.00
5. Forward 4.5 tuck — 3.8 — 62.70
6.  Inward 3.5 tuck — 3.4 — 64.60
Total score: 431.65