Reigning gold medalist out after belly flop; both Americans advance to 3m final

After heavy gusts of wind made for a challenging preliminary a day earlier, calm conditions conducted high scores as the top 12 divers advanced to the men’s individual 3m springboard final on Tuesday evening.

China’s Cao Yuan led the way, as he did in the preliminary, with 489.10 points. Mexico’s Rommel Pacheco finished second, as he did in the preliminary, with 469.70 points. And USA’s Mike Hixon placed third with 467.25 points.

Kristian Ipsen posted a 437.70-point program to secure his spot in the final.

Russia’s Ilya Zakharov won’t get a chance to defend the 3m gold medal he won in London in 2012. The reigning Olympic champion began his preliminary program with three poor dives, but he cobbled together enough points on his final three to place 18th and grab the final qualifying spot. After two strong dives to open the semifinals, Zakharov’s knees buckled on a forward 2.5 pike with 2 twists. A vicous belly flop served him a “no dive,” zero points, and an early elimination from the men’s individual 3m springboard event. 

Zakharov totaled a massive 555.90 points in his gold-medal program in London, but he managed just 345.60 in the semifinal for a last-place finish and an early exit.

With both Zakharov, the reigning Olympic champion, and China’s He Chao, the reigning World champion, out of the competition, Tuesday night’s final is anyone’s for the taking. The top 12 will be back at the diving well Tuesday evening for the men’s individual 3m final beginning at 5pm ET.

Michael Hixon’s list

1. Back 2.5 pike — 3.0 — 78.00
2. Forward 2.5 pike 2 twists — 3.4 — 81.60
3. Reverse 1.5 free 3.5 twists — 3.5 — 84.00
4. Reverse 3.5 tuck — 3.5 — 54.25
5. Forward 4.5 tuck — 3.8 — 91.20
6. Inward 3.5 tuck — 3.4 — 78.20
Total score: 467.25

Kristian Ipsen’s list

1. Back 2.5 pike — 3.0 — 72.00
2. Inward 2.5 pike — 3.0 — 72.00
3. Forward 3.5 pike — 3.1 — 77.50
4. Forward 2.5 pike 2 twists — 3.4 — 86.70
5. Reverse 3.5 tuck — 3.5 — 40.25
6. Reverse 1.5 free 3.5 twists — 89.25
Total score: 437.70