Li Shixin slipped into the water with barely a splash on his final dive, then climbed out of the pool and held up his index finger to signal No. 1.
Indeed, China was tops again.
Li won the host country’s third gold medal and fourth overall in diving Monday, leading all the way in the men’s 1-meter competition on a sweltering day at the Oriental Sports Center’s outdoor pool.
“You don’t know how exited I am now,” he said through a translator.
Li’s teammate, He Min, claimed the silver after rallying on his last dive to overtake Pavlo Rozenberg. The German, who had held second, settled for bronze.
Li totaled 463.90 points in the six-dive final of the non-Olympic event. He had 444.00 and Rozenberg 436.50.
Li walked up to the pool deck camera, smiled broadly and saluted as the partisan fans in the stands cheered loudly.
“It’s said that the 1-meter springboard will be canceled as a world championships event, so it means that the gold medal is more precious,” said Li, competing in his first world meet at 23.
Li had problems with his third dive, receiving scores ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, but it didn’t cost him in the standings.
His teammate dropped from fourth to seventh after badly missing his second dive when his legs hit the water upon entry. But He rebounded on his next dive to move into third, where he stayed until the last round.
He’s last dive was much more difficult than Rozenberg’s, which helped him move up to claim silver even though the German’s highest mark on his dive was a 9.0 while He’s highest was 8.5.
“I am making the first appearance in the world championships, so I was a little nervous at the beginning,” He said. “But I gradually relaxed. It’s a precious experience for me.”
American Chris Colwill was fourth — 9.35 points out of a medal — in the highest finish yet for the U.S.
Colwill broke his left hand in January and was out for four months after having surgery that required two screws and four bands of wires to be inserted.
“I didn’t dive to the best of my abilities, but coming back from a hand injury and being able to do this, I’m pretty happy about it,” he said. “I know I can get top-two in this event. I was reallly right there, I just had to polish up a few things.”
His teammate, Aaron Fleshner, botched his fourth and last dives to fall to ninth after being third early on in his debut at worlds.
“I’m not satisfied,” he said. “I was a little nervous.”
Daniel Islas of Mexico drew gasps from the crowd when his right foot struck the board on his last dive. He created a huge splash while landing on his back and receiving all zeros from the judges. Islas walked away under his own power before being helped into a wheelchair as a precaution.
“I was just a little too close to the board. I don’t know whether I will try the same dive next time,” said Islas, who is scheduled to compete Tuesday. “I’m in a little bit of pain, but I’m OK.”
China was the leading qualifier going into the women’s 10-meter synchro final later Monday.