China continues diving domination, wins synchronized springboard gold

TOKYO -- China got off to a winning start in diving at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming gold in women's 3-meter synchronized springboard to start what the Chinese hope is a sweep of the eight events.

Shi Tingmao and Wang Han totaled 326.40 points on Sunday, easily winning by 25.62 points.

Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu of Canada took silver with 300.78. Lena Hentschel and Tina Punzel of Germany earned bronze with 284.97.

The U.S. duo of Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer finished last among eight teams in their Olympic debuts.

Shi and Wang led each of the five rounds, tying with the U.S. after their second dive.

Shi and Wang earned scores ranging from 8.0 to 9.0 for their last dive, an inward 2 1/2 somersaults pike that carries a 3.0 degree of difficulty.

The Chinese have won 37 of 48 gold medals at the last seven Olympics. The country's women have not lost an Olympic diving event since 2004. This is their fifth consecutive victory in synchronized springboard, their only loss coming when the event debuted at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Shi won her third Olympic medal. She teamed with Wu Minxia to capture gold in Rio de Janeiro five years ago in synchro springboard and won the 3-meter individual title, too.

The Canadians rallied from sixth after two rounds to give Abel her second medal in her fourth career Olympics. The 29-year-old earned bronze on 3-meter synchro in 2012. She is the first diver not from China or Russia to win at least two medals in synchro springboard.

The Americans botched their third dive, dropping to sixth. Gibson and Palmer never recovered and fell to last on their fourth dive, which included a mark of 2.5.