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More China gold at Asian Swimming Championships

Kuwait’s Al Hassan targets diving qualification for 2016 Olympics

Gulf News

Dubai: There were no surprises on the opening day of diving events as China picked up both golds on offer on Thursday at the Asian Swimming Championships.

Taking to the board for the first diving event of the competition, it was the Chinese pair of Lin Jin and Su Zewan who topped the podium in the men’s three-metre synchro final. They amassed a score of 399.57 from their six dives as the gold never looked in doubt.

Malaysia’s Ooi Tze Liang and Chew Yiwei emerged as silver medallists with a score of 336.33 points while Hong Kong’s Jason Poon and Ho Wing Chow’s 322.95 points earned them the bronze medal. Just missing out on a podium spot were the ever-improving Kuwaiti pair of Rashid Al Harbi and Hussain Al Qallaf, who finished with a total of 308.64.

Kuwait remains the leading Gulf country in the sport of diving, thanks to the efforts of coach Sulaiman Qabazard, who himself competed at the 1976 Olympic Games, and now also team manager, Ali Al Hassan, a 1996 Olympian. Their aim is to have their divers qualify for the 2016 Games.

“In terms of talent, we have a lot of talent. I don’t know about the other teams in the Gulf, but in Kuwait it is just phenomenal,” said Al Hassan.

“The issue comes once they get to high school, and keeping up their training is a challenge. So if we can get them past high school at least to go to the US, then they can train on a regular basis.

“One of the athletes right now, Rashid Al Harbi, who is competing in all three events here — he’s the youngest of the three and probably the one with the most potential. He’s also going to the US in January so he’ll be training all year long. That’s what I did during my career, and that really helped a lot.”

Asked exactly what made the Chinese such a dominant diving nation, Al Hassan explained: “There are probably a few more of them, than us. In Kuwait our population is just a little over a million.

“But one of the things that they are really good at, is the fundamentals. They spend years and years of training people on different fundamentals. So I think that is one of their secrets. And also the consistency, so once people start in the sport, they get to train for years. So a lot of the athletes here, they have been diving for eight to nine years before they get to these events.

As for what the team hopes for from these Championships, Al Hassan added: “We are going to let the Chinese win this time…but there are a couple of events that we are going for silvers. In a competition, you never know sometimes when you could be very close to someone.”

Meanwhile, in the other diving event of the day, China’s Wu Shengping took the gold with 385.3 points, and her teammate Xing Yiying the silver with 358.5. And, despite a nasty slip on takeoff for her penultimate dive, Japan’s Fuka Tatsumi managed to hold on for the bronze with a total of 267.30 points.