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Ilya Zakharov Stuns Chinese Divers In 3-Meter Diving, Takes Gold

The Chinese suffer a rare defeat in diving at the hands of a 21-year-old Russian.

Aug 7, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Gold Medal winner Ilya Zakharov (RUS) in the Men's 3m diving final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 7, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Gold Medal winner Ilya Zakharov (RUS) in the Men's 3m diving final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Ilya Zakharov of Russia stunned Chinese divers Qin Kai and He Chong to take the 3-meter springboard diving gold on Tuesday night. He is the only non-Chinese diver to win gold in London so far this year.

The Chinese have been smarting for four years since their last-dive loss to Australia's out gay diver Matthew Mitcham in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, preventing a full eight-for-eight sweep of the golds for the host country in the final diving event. They came into London laser-focused on getting that clean sweep and won the first five events. But it was Zakharov who ruined the party this time.

Just as Mitcham was in Beijing, Zakharov was losing headed into the final dive when he pulled out an incredible forward 4 1/2 somersault for the highest score of the finals: 104.50. It was the only score over 100 in the finals.

It was sweet revenge for Zakharov, who won silver in the synchronized 3-meter, falling to Qin and partner Luo Yutong. He will also compete in the 10-meter platform later this week.

American Troy Dumais finished fifth. Every counted score was between 8.0 and 9.0, but the difficulty of his dives just wasn't high enough to contend without many more scores over 9.0. Canadian Alexandre Despatie finished 11th of 12 finalists, scoring a miserable 22.10 on his final dive.